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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 YellenThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Senate begins marathon vote-a-rama before .9T COVID-19 relief passage The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Virus relief bill headed for weekend vote Debt to break WWII record by 2031 MORE and to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump White House associate tied to Proud Boys before riot via cell phone data Greene sounds off on GOP after Hill story 'Bloody Sunday' to be commemorated for first time without John Lewis MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor MORE (D-N.Y.).

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda explains here.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

 

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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 DeFazioBiden turns focus to next priority with infrastructure talks Biden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure DOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe MORE, Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettThe 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 Stacey Plaskett jabs Cruz over Cancun getaway MORE, David SchweikertDavid SchweikertBiden meets with bipartisan senators to discuss potential infrastructure bill Lawmakers offer competing priorities for infrastructure plans The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Which path will Democrats take on COVID-19 bill? 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