Monday Moneybeat

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: I do want to report to you today how the economy’s doing. But…

AUDIO: Thank you for calling the office of public affairs. No one is currently available to take your call.

I typically visit the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis website to pull BEA reports and data tables. At the top of the site, though, it says:

“Due to a lapse in Congressional Appropriations for fiscal year 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis is closed. This website is not being updated until further notice.”

So, for example, no government data available on home construction and retail sales. Retail’s a key figure, because it gives us a preview on gross domestic product. While I’m at it, the GDP report isn’t likely to happen when it’s due at the end of the month. Because even if government opened today, the economists who work at BEA probably won’t have enough time to complete the analysis.

All that to say, I have limited reporting today.

The technical reason for this is what I read you from the BEA website, that appropriations have lapsed. Here’s some background:

Congress has gotten out of the habit of passing the 12 separate appropriations bills that fund government functions. When members fail to do that, they roll together a “continuing resolution.” That’s a massive single funding bill and Congress OKs that to authorize government spending. Or it doesn’t, which is where we are now: Shut down over a disagreement on how or whether to spend $5.7 billion on a border wall or fence to help enforce immigration law.

To break that down: Government is set to spend $4.407 trillion, which—I did the math—is half-a-billion an hour. So that contested border money is an amount equivalent to what Washington blows through faster than it takes the clock to get from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

REICHARD: We should note Congress did manage to approve funding for the Labor Department, so we do have one report on consumer prices. The price of gasoline fell in December, and that drove the overall consumer price index down one-tenth of a percent.

So year over year in December, consumer prices rose just 1.9 percent. That’s the first time it has fallen below 2 percent since August 2017.

EICHER: The Labor Department will be able to produce a jobs report, as well, but even that’s going to be skewed by this government shutdown. There’s a 99-month winning streak for job growth, and this January 380-thousand government employees are technically unemployed. It could raise the unemployment rate over 4 percent, and, crucially, it’s very likely to result in net negative job growth. If so, it would end the longest-running stretch of consecutive job growth in U.S. history.

REICHARD: Wall Street’s been jittery for weeks, but this month, it’s been the calm one. All the major indexes grew last week: the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 2.5 percent; the Dow Jones Industrials 2.4 percent. The Nasdaq gained 3.5 percent. And the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 4.8 percent.

EICHER: All those indexes remain firmly in positive territory on the new year.

And that’s today’s Monday Moneybeat.

(Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP) In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, photo drivers fill up at the BP station on Prince Avenue in Athens, Ga. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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