On The Money: Reddit traders cause Wall Street havoc | Powell: Inflation fears should not impede more coronavirus aid | NJ lawmakers press for SALT cap repeal in next relief package

On The Money: Reddit traders cause Wall Street havoc | Powell: Inflation fears should not impede more coronavirus aid | NJ lawmakers press for SALT cap repeal in next relief package
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Happy Wednesday 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—Reddit traders cause Wall Street havoc by buying GameStop: Amateur online traders fueled by discussions on Reddit sent shares of a struggling video game retailer flying Wednesday, a moment that is underscoring the divorce between the skyrocketing values of companies and the pain in the real economy.

GameStop, a video game retailer struggling to keep up with direct downloads even before the coronavirus pandemic, saw its share price jump to $347 per share on Wednesday. Overall, its share price has risen over 1,800 percent in January.

It’s not the only seemingly imperiled company that has seen its stock soar because of buys by the nearly 3 million users on Reddit’s subforum r/WallStreetBets (WSB) either.

  • Shares of theater chain AMC rose 302 percent, the holding company used to liquidate Blockbuster Video’s assets rose 120 percent, Nokia rose 38 percent and BlackBerry rose 33.4 percent Wednesday, while the stock market on whole took steep losses.
  • Most if not all of these companies have bleak financial futures, but they’ve become favorite targets of thousands of self-starting day traders using a proliferation of trading apps like Robinhood.

The Hill’s Chris Mills Rodrigo and I explain here.

 

LEADING THE DAY

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Powell: Inflation fears should not impede more coronavirus aid: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the U.S. economy still faces “considerable risks” driven by the coronavirus pandemic and waived off concerns that further fiscal support could boost inflation.

While Powell said the U.S. economy is ripe for a strong second half, he warned that the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations and the arrivals of new variants still pose serious threats to millions of Americans who are struggling to get by amid the pandemic.

“We're a long way from a full recovery,” Powell told reporters during a news conference shortly after the Fed announced it would hold interest rates steady and continue purchasing $120 billion each month in Treasury and mortgage bonds.

“Something like 9 million people remain unemployed as a consequence of the pandemic,” he continued, noting a total equal to the peak of the job losses during the Great Recession in 2009.

“Many small businesses are under pressure and there are other needs to be addressed, and the path ahead is still pretty uncertain," he added. I have more here.

 

New Jersey lawmakers press for SALT cap repeal in next relief package: New Jersey's House members are urging the Biden administration and congressional leaders to include repeal of the cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction in the next coronavirus relief bill.

"Relief from the unfair and destructive SALT cap offers the precise breed of action our constituents, states, and localities will benefit from immediately," the lawmakers wrote in letters Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenFed chief holds firm amid inflation concerns The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden MORE and to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCapitol riot defendants have started a jail newsletter: report On The Money: Biden asks Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration | Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE (D-N.Y.).

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda explains here.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

 

Friday 1/29 beginning at 12:30 PM ET | Reset 2021: A New American Start

The inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris marks a new era in Washington. As with any presidential transition, priorities and goals will be recalibrated. The administration has outlined a broad policy framework with proposals focused on improving infrastructure and expanding universal access to broadband, revitalizing immigration, supporting environmental sustainability, providing meaningful support to those harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and, of course, reviving the economy. Looking ahead to the first 100 days, what steps will be used to drive economic recovery and environmental sustainability and to address immigration? Reps. Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioHoyer urges conference talks on bipartisan infrastructure bill House Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate On The Money: Bipartisan infrastructure group says it's still on track after Senate setback | House Democrats want input on bipartisan plan | McConnell warns GOP won't vote to raise debt ceiling MORE, Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettPlaskett slams GOP rep for saying Black Lives Matter 'doesn't like the old-fashioned family' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help Plaskett makes history for Virgin Islands after role in impeachment MORE, David SchweikertDavid SchweikertLawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection We must address the declining rate of startup business launches Shakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' MORE and Ted Detuch, USCC's Tom Donohue, Kevin Hassett, UnidosUS's Janet Murguía and more. RSVP today for one session or both. 

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Apple and Facebook reported strong earnings from the last three months of 2020 on Wednesday when they released their quarterly earnings reports.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was nudged out for the top lobbying spender spot by the National Association of Realtors in 2020, marking the first time the powerful pro-business lobbying group didn’t claim the top spot since 2000.
  • Campaign finance experts are increasingly skeptical that the companies vowing to freeze political contributions to Republicans who objected to the Electoral College results will carry out those pledges in a meaningful way. 

 

ODDS AND ENDS