Congress hits its stride this week with hearings on everything from reforming the tax code and the SEC’s 2012 budget to grilling nominees for a Fed governorship and White House economic posts, while the markets will continue to watch the situation in Libya and the Mideast (on a Sunday talk show, White House Chief of Staff William Daley said the Administration was “considering” tapping the strategic oil reserve to help ease gas prices).
Signs of the state of the economy that will likely move the markets this week include the trade deficit (complemented by a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Obama trade policy), consumer credit on Monday and consumer sentiment and business inventories at week’s end. What will draw much ink and many advisors’ interest is the testimony on Tuesday of Raj Rajaratnam, founder of Galleon Group, on insider trading charges.
On Monday, March 7, economic reports include the Federal Reserve’s report on the state of consumer credit in January. The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) begins day one of its two-day 401(k) summit in Las Vegas (look for onsite reporting from Investment Advisor editor John Sullivan).
On Tuesday, March 8, the NYSE and Nasdaq report short-selling positions, while Galleon hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam is unlikely to be celebrating Mardi Gras as he instead appears in a federal court in Manhattan, where he will eventually take the stand in his own defense in his insider trading case. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs may also testify in the trial, which is expected to last six to eight weeks. The Senate Banking Committee advises and perhaps consents to Federal Reserve Board Governor nominee Peter Diamond, and Katherine Abraham and Carl Shapiro, nominees for President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. The Senate Finance Committee continues its hearings on reforming the tax code, this week focusing on whether the tax system supports economic growth and job creation (see Danielle Andrus’ report on the intitial hearing last week). In London, the Bank of England concludes a two-day policy meeting, while Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner travels to Germany for talks.