With Europe tilting toward recession and the U.S. recovery slogging along, both Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke and President Obama stepped up their efforts to bolster the economy.
The Fed sought to buy time by pledging to keep interest rates low even longer and Obama, geared up for an election year, began a push to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
Stock markets reacted favorably, particularly to the prospect of continued low interest rates and signals that Bernanke would do what he had to do to support the recovery, but both initiatives point to lingering troubles in the current economy. RELATED STORY: On the Campaign Trail >>
After a key meeting Wednesday on monetary policy, the Fed said unemployment would decline only gradually over the coming quarters and that it would keep its benchmark interest rate “exceptionally low…at least through late 2014.” That pushes the central bank’s timeline for the next interest rate hike back more than a year.
Investors pushed the S&P Retail Index up 0.4 percent, or 2.32 points, to 555.85, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7 percent, or 83.10 points, to 12,758.85. Both indexes are near the highs hit last summer just before Washington’s highly politicized debt ceiling show-off hit markets hard and resulted in a credit downgrade of the U.S. just as the euro crisis worsened.
Given the election in November, there seems little hope that this year will be any less contentious politically.
Obama, sounding the populist themes he will take on the campaign trail, outlined a plan to boost American manufacturing jobs during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“We have a huge opportunity at this moment to bring manufacturing back,” Obama said. “But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.”
White House officials on Wednesday released details of the President’s “Blueprint for an America Built to Last,” which contains six tax proposals that “support manufacturing, discourage outsourcing and encourage insourcing,” and will be included in the President’s budget proposal to Congress next month.
The current tax code allows companies that move production or services overseas to deduct their moving expenses, thereby reducing their taxes in the U.S. Obama wants to eliminate that deduction and instead give a 20 percent income tax credit for the expenses of companies moving operations back to the U.S.
Another proposal would give tax credits to companies moving to and investing in hard-hit communities. The credit would provide $2 billion a year in incentives for three years, the White House said. The tax package would also reauthorize 100 percent expensing of investment in plants and equipment.
On the trade front, Obama said he will create a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trade practices and presumably supplement enforcement and investigations already conducted by the Commerce Department and U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.
“I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products,” Obama said. “And I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules.”
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye