New York (CNNMoney.com) - The Federal Reserve has been in the hot seat since its last meeting. But don't expect its embattled policymakers to signal any significant change of heart when they meet Tuesday.
Economists and other Fed watchers expect the central bank's statement to be somewhat more upbeat than a month ago, acknowledging some signs of improvement in the economy.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The economy was a Democrat's worst enemy in this year's midterm elections. Will President Obama face the same fate in 2012?
Political scientists say the direction of the economy is what colors an incumbent's re-election chances most. And even though sluggish growth is widely expected to continue next year, economists are generally forecasting better growth, and improvements in the job market in 2012. That could well be enough to save Obama's job.
"The next two years will be more important for [Obama's] prospects than the first half of his first term," said Douglas Hibbs, a retired professor at the University of Gothenburg who has studied the impact of the economy on voter choices over the last 60 years.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The U.S. economy continued on its path of weak growth in the third quarter, according to the government's latest reading Friday.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy, grew at an annual rate of 2% in the three months ending in September. While that's slightly better than 1.7% growth in the previous quarter, it's still considered too weak.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Even if the economy avoids falling into a double-dip recession, the next year will probably feel like one anyway, a CNNMoney.com survey of economists showed.
Unemployment is expected to remain high, according to the survey of 31 top economists. Their average forecast is for the rate to be at 9.5% - only slightly lower than current levels.
And next year isn't looking much better. Unemployment is only expected to fall to about 9% by the end of 2011, the survey showed.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Businesses are hiring, but not enough to make up for the massive losses of temporary government jobs.
The economy lost a total of 54,000 jobs in August, according to the Labor Department, matching the revised estimate of jobs lost in July.
The bulk of the losses came from the public sector, as the government cut 114,000 temporary census workers. It was the third straight month that census worker layoffs caused an overall decline in jobs.
But the report showed some improvements in the jobs picture. The overall losses were not as bad as expected, as economists surveyed by Briefing.com had predicted a loss of 120,000 jobs in the month.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The U.S. economy lost jobs for the first time this year in June, as modest hiring by businesses only partly offset the end of temporary Census jobs.
The Labor Department on Friday reported a net loss of 125,000 jobs overall in the month. That was due primarily to the loss of 225,000 census jobs that had swelled payrolls by 433,000 net jobs in May. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of 100,000 jobs in June.
Business hiring rebounded to 83,000 in the latest reading, which was a bit weaker than hoped, from a revised total of 33,000 jobs in May, Besides the loss of census jobs, state and local governments cut 10,000 jobs in the month. That, and the gain of 27,000 non-census jobs by the federal government, lead to the overall loss in jobs.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - In another sign that the recovery in the U.S. economy is taking hold, employers added significantly more jobs to payrolls in April, according to a government report released Friday.
There was a gain of 290,000 jobs in the month, up from a revised 230,000 jobs added in March. It was the largest number of jobs added to the labor force since March 2006.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a gain of 187,000 jobs.
With upward revisions for both March and February, there has been a gain of 573,000 jobs since the start of the year. After nearly two years of job losses, the economy has now added jobs in five of the last six months.
The report also includes a separate survey of households that it uses to estimate the unemployment rate, which increased to 9.9%. Economists had forecast the rate would remain at the 9.7% rate reported for March.
The increase was due to people who had previously been discouraged returning to the job search. So the rise in the unemployment rate is actually a sign of improving perception of labor market conditions by job seekers. The number of discouraged workers, or people who want a job but are not counted in the labor force has now dropped by 355,000 since December.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Chinese and U.S. officials are reportedly close to a deal on boosting the value of China's currency, the yuan - the first step to making U.S.-made goods more competitive versus Chinese exports.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was in China for a surprise meeting this week, and Chinese President Hu Jintao is due in Washington next week.
"It's basically seems like it's a done deal," said foreign exchange expert Ashraf Laidi, chief market strategist for CMC Markets.
The agreement is widely expected to result in an immediate 2% to 3% rise in the yuan - a fairly modest step. What could make the agreement significant, however, is if China agrees to future increases as the currency moves toward being freely traded for the first time.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday he's confident the Federal Reserve will make money on the trillions ithas pumped into the economy since the start of 2008.
"I think we're in very good shape," Bernanke said, answering questions following a speech at the Economic Club of Washington. "I do believe we're going to get back all the money, and indeed we'll be showing for the taxpayers fairly significant extra income."
Bernanke was referring specifically to Fed programs - not the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The U.S. Treasury will likely lose money on TARP, though the Obama administration is expected to announce soon that losses will be $200 billion less than initially expected.
The Fed has actually pumped far more money into the economy than Treasury did through TARP.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke got an endorsement from Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd at the start of his confirmation hearing Thursday, even as Dodd called for a removal of some of the central banks current powers.
Dodd said Bernanke and the Fed deserved credit for the steps taken in the financial crisis of a year earlier to stop the economic crisis from becoming significantly worse than it did.
"I believe you are the right leader for this moment in the nation's economic history and it would send the right message to markets," Dodd said during his opening statement.
But the committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, was far more critical of Bernanke in his opening statement, telling Bernanke "I fear now our trust and confidence (in the Federal Reserve) was misplaced." He did not say whether he would vote for or against confirmation, though.