On The Money: Powell says 'concerning' rise in COVID-19 cases could hinder economic recovery | House Democrats withdraw appeal in case over Trump's New York tax returns | Initial jobless claims dip to 751,000

On The Money: Powell says 'concerning' rise in COVID-19 cases could hinder economic recovery | House Democrats withdraw appeal in case over Trump's New York tax returns | Initial jobless claims dip to 751,000
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Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money. 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—Powell says 'concerning' rise in COVID-19 cases could hinder economic recovery: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that surging coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Europe pose a troubling obstacle to the economic recovery from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Powell told reporters during a Thursday press conference that “the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases both here in the United States and abroad is particularly concerning” to the central bank and dangerous to the fragile U.S. economy.

“As we have emphasized throughout the pandemic the outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain, and will depend in large part on the success of efforts to keep the virus in check,” Powell said after the Fed announced it would keep interest rates near zero. 

“All of us have a role to play in our nation's response to the pandemic. Following the advice of public health professionals to keep appropriate social distances and to wear masks in public will help get the economy back to full strength,” he added.

I have more here.


The background: Powell’s warning comes as the U.S. faces a troubling third wave of coronavirus cases that has covered most of the country. 

  • The U.S. on Wednesday recorded more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time during the pandemic, and about 52,000 people currently in the hospital with coronavirus, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
  • Powell, other top Fed officials, and economists across the public and private sectors have said since the beginning of the pandemic that the U.S. economy would be unable to fully recover until COVID-19 is adequately controlled. 
  • The failure to curb the pandemic has derailed wide swaths of the economy that depend on people traveling or gathering in close quarters — costing millions of jobs and threatening thousands of businesses.

“It does seem likely that people who have maybe begun to engage in activities that they hadn't — flying, staying in a hotel, going to restaurants, going to bars and things like that — that they may pull back in a situation where suddenly cases are everywhere in your city, your state, your community,” Powell said.

“That could weigh on economic activity,” he continued, though he noted that the second wave of coronavirus cases seen over the summer, which was contained largely to the south and Sun Belt, had a limited impact on the national economy.



House Democrats withdrawing appeal in case over Trump's New York tax returns: House Democrats are dropping their appeal of a federal judge's order that requires them to give notice if they request President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE's New York tax returns under a state law.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealIRS says start of tax filing season delayed until Feb. 12 On The Money: Twenty states raise minimum wage at start of new year | Trade group condemns GOP push to overturn Biden victory | Top Democrat: Georgia runoffs will influence push for ,000 checks Top Democrat: Outcome of Georgia runoffs will influence push for ,000 checks MORE (D-Mass.) and committee aide Andrew Grossman on Tuesday filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to voluntarily dismiss the appeal.

Neal has never requested Trump's state tax returns and has been more interested in obtaining the president's federal tax filings.

"On the advice of counsel, the committee withdrew this appeal and will be focusing on its federal case to obtain the president’s tax returns," a Ways and Means Committee spokesperson said.

Neal filed a separate lawsuit against the Trump administration last year in an effort to obtain Trump's federal returns. That case has yet to be resolved.

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda has more here.



Initial jobless claims dip to 751,000: Initial jobless claims for the last week of October fell to a seasonally-adjusted 751,000, a drop of 7,000 from the previous week, but still extraordinarily high by historical standards.

  • Thursday data from the Labor Department revised the number of new claims from the previous week, which had also initially been reported at 751,000, up to 758,000. Unadjusted claims fell just 543 to 738,166.
  • But another 363,000 Americans applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a program Congress passed in March's CARES Act to expand unemployment benefits to gig workers and the self-employed.
  • The program is set to expire altogether at year's end.

The Hill’s Niv Elis walks us through the data here.