Overnight Finance

On The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector $60B boost

Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money, considerably shorter than the Mueller report, but just as scintillating. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL--Well, the Mueller Report. As much as we think the world revolves around finance here at On The Money, the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report is obviously the major story of the day.

Check out the excellent coverage of the report, the reaction to it and the fallout on our website at TheHill.com, where we've got stories on every conceivable aspect of the 400-plus page document so you don't have to read it on your own (unless you want to!). Here's just a sample of what we have for you.

 

And now, back to finance news...

 

LEADING THE DAY

Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal economic impact: The Mueller report wasn't the only exhaustive analysis of a Trump-related endeavor released today.

President Trump's update of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would provide a very modest boost to the economy, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The Hill's Niv Elis has the details here.

The topline:

  • The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would increase economic growth by 0.35 percent, or $68.2 billion, and create 175,700 jobs, the government agency projected.
  • Wages would rise 0.27 percent, and the largest increases would be in manufacturing and mining, with the average wage climbing 0.43 percent among lower-educated workers.
  • U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico would increase and the trade deficit with Mexico would be reduced by $1.8 billion under the agreement. Exports to Mexico would get a $14.2 billion boost, compared with $12.4 billion in new imports.
  • The bilateral trade deficit with Canada would stay the same, with $19.1 billion in new exports countering $19.1 billion in imports.

 

Meanwhile, the White House sought to emphasize the impact on the U.S. auto sector in its own analysis released minutes earlier. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) projected a boost for U.S. automakers and parts producers in an economic analysis of the USCMA published Thursday.

  • The White House trade office projected the USMCA to spur $34 billion in investments in U.S. auto plants, $23 billion in American auto parts sales and create 76,000 new industry jobs over the course of five years.
  • The employment gains would include roughly 22,800 automotive assembly jobs, 8,000 additional advanced battery supplier jobs, and 45,600 additional automotive supplier jobs, according to USTR estimates. 

The state of play: The deal will not be in effect until the U.S., Canadian and Mexican legislatures approve it, and the USMCA faces significant hurdles in Congress.

Democratic lawmakers have said that USMCA's labor protections and environmental standards are too weak to earn their support.

"This report confirms what has been clear since this deal was announced - Donald Trump's NAFTA represents at best a minor update to NAFTA, which will offer only limited benefits to U.S. workers," said Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, of the ITC report.

Liberals have threatened to vote against the deal without changes, but Republicans and White House officials say it's too late to adjust the terms.

"I'm glad to see the report recognized USMCA's new economic benefits," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), noting the trade deal's focus on reducing nontariff barriers.

Trump has threatened to pull the U.S. from NAFTA if Democrats do not approve the USMCA, which could pose significant damage to country's economy. Business groups have warned Trump against killing NAFTA, and formed a bipartisan coalition with several former lawmakers to rally lawmakers behind USMCA.

 

Cain says he 'won't run away from criticism' in push for Fed seat: Herman Cain said Thursday that he intends to pursue a spot on the Federal Reserve Board and will not "run away from criticism," despite having almost no path toward confirmation.

Cain said in a Fox Business Network interview that he will not withdraw from consideration for a Fed nomination, floated by President Trump this month, even though he appears to lack the votes needed in the Senate and the White House says it is interviewing for replacement nominees.

"This noise chamber causes a lot of people, including senators, to get wishy-washy, but it doesn't cause me to want to withdraw," Cain said on "Varney & Co."

"I'm not withdrawing. That's not my nature," he added. I've got more here.

Reminder: With four of the 53 Senate Republicans opposed to Cain and others lobbying behind the scenes against his nomination, he would need the support of all other GOP senators and a Senate Democrat to be confirmed, an unlikely prospect.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • A proposal from Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren to impose a surtax on large corporations' profits would raise hundreds of billions of dollars but would also lead to a smaller economy, according to an analysis released Thursday by the right-leaning Tax Foundation.
  • "Sears on Thursday named Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a lawsuit against the company's former CEO, Edward Lampert, alleging that Mnuchin was part of a group of board members who assisted Lampert and his hedge fund in stripping the bankrupted retailer of more than $2 billion in assets," Politico reports.
  • U.S. retail sales rose in March at the fastest pace since September 2017, driven by an increase in spending on autos, gasoline, furniture, and clothing.

 

ODDS AND ENDS

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