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Bernanke To Congress Don’t Play Politics
Bernanke To Congress Don’t Play Politics 

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in remarks to the New York Economic Club on Tuesday that members of Congress should not kick the can down the road and said they need to cut a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff and don’t play politics with the federal debt limit again. His additional message aimed for Washington, confusion over the course of U.S. tax and spending policy is weighing on the spending decisions of households and businesses, as well as on financial markets. “Uncertainty about how the fiscal cliff, the raising of the debt limit and the longer-term budget situation will be addressed appears already to be affecting private spending and investment decisions, and may be contributing to an increased sense of caution in financial markets. Such uncertainties will only be increased by discord and delay,” according to Bernanke. Putting off policy choices would only “prolong and intensify these uncertainties,” he said. “In contrast, cooperation and creativity to deliver fiscal clarity, in particular a plan for resolving the nation’s longer-term budgetary issues without harming the recovery could make the new year a very good one for the American economy.” “A failure to reach a timely agreement this time around could impose even heavier economic and financial costs,” he commented. “Coming together to find fiscal solutions will not be easy, but the stakes are high.” Bernanke said Fed monetary policy has helped diminish headwinds holding back the recovery. He added that it is too early to assess the full effects of the central bank’s third round of bond buying, known as QE3. Under QE3, the Fed is buying $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities per month with no end date, saying only that the purchases would continue until there was substantial improvement in the labor market. Bernanke noted that, since the Fed announced QE3 in September, yields on corporate bonds and agency mortgage-backed securities have fallen significantly on balance. Even when the recovery strengthens, the central bank said it expects to hold rates near zero until mid-2015. “We hope that such assurances will reduce uncertainly and increase confidence among households and businesses, thereby providing additional support for economic growth and job creation,” Bernanke added.  

Best Buy Co., Inc. (BBY: NYSE) shares ended the session on Tuesday, down over 13% after reporting a fiscal Q3 loss of $10 million or 3 cents a share, compared with a profit of $156 million or 43 cents per share, in 2011. Excluding restructuring charges, Best Buy said it earned 3 cents a share. In the quarter ended November 3, revenue fell to $10.75 billion from $11.1 billion and comparable store sales fell 4.3%. 

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday that construction on new U.S. homes rose 3.6% during October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000 striking the highest rate seen since July 2008. Government analysts said Hurricane Sandy had minimal effect because it hit only a small part of the country at the end of the month. By region, housing starts fell 6.5% during October in the Northeast and fell 2.5% in the South. Housing starts rose 8.9% in the Midwest and in the West rose 17.2%. Building permits, which provides a sign of future demand, declined 2.7% to a rate of 866,000. Permits for single-family homes rose 2.2% to an annual rate of 562,000 in October, while permits for structures with at least two units fell 10.6%. New home starts are up 42% from 2011, though the rate remains well below the peak in 2006 of almost 2.3 million. 

In a lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that a professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School tipped off a hedge fund run by CR Intrinsic to liquidate $700 million worth of positions in Elan (ELN: NYSE) and Wyeth which is now a unit of Pfizer (PFE: NYSE) as well as establish $960 million worth of shorts against the firms. The SEC has alleged that $276 million in illegal profits or avoided losses were made by investment advisers and their hedge funds by trading ahead of negative news on a clinical trial of an Alzheimer's drug developed by Elan and Wyeth. The SEC is also suing Mathew Martoma, who worked at CR Intrinsic as well as Dr. Sideny Gilman, the professor who was the chairman of the safety-monitoring committee overseeing the clinical trial and allegedly a paid consultant with an expert networking firm. The U.S. Attorney’s office said the professor who was not specifically named, entered into a non-prosecution agreement to provide information. Paid consultants for hedge funds have been the focus of previous insider-trading cases brought by the government. The SEC alleges Martoma received a $9.3 million bonus at the end of 2008, which was a significant portion of the drug trial trades. Per the SEC, Gilman received over $100,000 from the expert network firm. “Mathew Martoma was an exceptional portfolio manager who succeeded through hard work and the dogged pursuit of information in the public domain. What happened today is only the beginning of a process that we are confident will lead to Mr. Martoma’s full exoneration,” said Charles Stillman of Stillman & Friedman in New York, in a statement.


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Nov 20, 2012


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