Driving the Day: 5/4/12

May 4, 2012

Need to know…

  • April Proves to be Another Weak Month of Job Creation. Businesses added only 115,000 jobs in April, showing that March’s low jobs numbers weren’t a one-month dud, but instead evidence of a longer lasting slowdown. The unemployment rate dropped from 8.2% to 8.1%. Hiring, housing, consumer spending, and manufacturing all appear to be improving, but are still not considered healthy by economists. The government’s economic data continues to send mixed signals about the health of the recovery from the Great Recession.
  • Export-Import Bank Deal Likely Coming Soon. POLITICO reports that House leaders appear to have settled on a framework to extend the Export Import Bank’s charter into 2014 and raise its loan exposure cap to $140 billion – a 40% increase. The hope is to have a bill that can be moved through Congress before the end of May.
  • One (More) Reason to Dislike Dodd-Frank. The Wall Street Journal editorial page writes today that one more reason to dislike Dodd-Frank is because it allows the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate and outlaw arbitration for a wide variety of consumer financial products if it’s in “the public interest. … [CFPB has] to worry about the legal blowback if its rule-making ignores the costs to consumers and the economy. Such a failure doomed an SEC corporate proxy rule last year. This is the only reason to hope that the consumer bureau won’t make the tort bar’s day and outlaw arbitration.”
  • Facebook Reveals IPO Details. In a filing with the SEC yesterday, Facebook said it anticipates that its stock will debut at between $28 and $35 per share. That price would raise an estimated $13.6 billion and would value the social networking giant at between $77 billion and $96 billion. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to sell around 30.2 million shares, which he says will be used to settle tax obligations.
  • TransCanada Expected to Reapply for Keystone Permit. According to people familiar with TransCanada’s plans, the Canadian firm behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will reapply today for a federal permit to ship crude oil from the oil sand fields of Alberta to the United States. The company unveiled a new route for the pipeline through Nebraska in response to concerns that the original route could endanger Nebraska’s Sandhills region. This news comes only months after the Obama administration denied a permit stating that the Feb. 21 deadline did not give officials enough time to evaluate the pipeline’s impact.
  • Media Criticizes EPA. A Washington Post editorial titled “The EPA is Earning a Reputation for Abuse” takes the agency to task for the “crucify them” comments made by regional administrator Al Armendariz and the agency’s decision to halt work on a couple’s homebuilding project. The newspaper concludes, “The lesson for Ms. Jackson and her boss, President Obama, from these two episodes is clear: The agency’s officers must have a clear sense when to deploy its mighty power and when to exercise discretion.” Meanwhile, a column by The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel states that Armendariz “was no rogue appointee. … His actions are no aberration. This is the "Crucify Them" presidency.”

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