TenCount -> Still locked and loaded: North Korea showed no sign of backing down

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TenCount -> Still locked and loaded: North Korea showed no sign of backing down

A highly selective view of events in the week ahead with important financial, legislative and political implications, put together by your friends at Sphere Consulting.

Edited by Edward Wyatt

  • Who ever said that August was a quiet month in Washington? Actually, of course, most of the action last week was emanating from Bedminster, N.J., rather than at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Congress remains on recess, and most of the think tanks are quiet this week. The president returns to Washington on Monday “to announce an executive action that could lead to an investigation over alleged violations of U.S. intellectual property rights,” according to Politico.
  • Still locked and loaded: North Korea showed no sign of backing down over the weekend on its threat against Guam, a United States territory in the Pacific. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis penned a stoic op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying that “The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea. We do not seek an excuse to garrison U.S. troops north of the Demilitarized Zone. We have no desire to inflict harm on the long-suffering North Korean people, who are distinct from the hostile regime in Pyongyang.” But we are still ready to defend ourselves and our ally, South Korea.
  • Congress will have plenty to do when it returns to Washington after Labor Day – and not much time to do it. In the House, there will be just 12 legislative days in which to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a default on federal borrowing and to approve a spending resolution and avoid a government shutdown. Add to that mix the fact that Republicans will probably have to win the votes of some Democrats to overcome the objectors in their own party, and it makes for an interesting fall kickoff.
  • Nervous about a government shutdown or a breach of the debt ceiling? The Government Services Council, a sort of self-help group for government contractors, will advise you on what steps to take in case of a government closure and proactive measures against a debt-ceiling crisis. On Monday afternoon, the council hosts a seminar, “Government Shutdown? Debt Ceiling Breach? Are you Prepared?”
  • Also on the fall agenda is a meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee on Sept. 19-20. Chances are mixed that the Fed will raise interest rates again; inflation seems to be declining rather than rising. But it’s almost certain that officials will proclaim the start of a gradual shrinking of the Fed’s $4.5 trillion inventory of bonds, phasing out the reinvestment of proceeds of maturing bonds. On Wednesday, the Fed releases the minutes of its July meeting, which should give insight into both issues.
  • The Labor Department appears to be ready to delay the compliance deadline for the Fiduciary Rule, the Obama-era regulation that dictates that an investment broker must act in a client’s best interest when recommending retirement investments. The Labor Department has proposed to delay the implementation date by 18 months, from Jan. 1, 2018 to July 2019. Already, however, brokerage firms appear to be limiting the number of mutual funds they offer to clients.
  • One of President Trump’s early acts in office was the signing of Executive Order No. 13781, a directive to “improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the Executive Branch” of the federal government. There is a lot to do, of course, and on Tuesday the Heritage Foundation will put the lot under the microscope when it hosts “Reorganizing the Federal Government: What Needs to Be Done and How to Do It.”
  • On Wednesday, negotiators from the United States and Mexico are due to begin tough negotiations over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Trump, of course, has called NAFTA “the worst trade deal may be signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.” On Tuesday, the eve of the discussions, the Woodrow Wilson Center will host “Mexico and the NAFTA Negotiations,” a panel discussion featuring Mexico’s chief negotiator.
  • Like Congress, most of the city’s esteemed think tanks have gone all but dark for the second half of August. Except for the Federalist Society, is going full-speed this week on a bevy of topics. On Monday“The Third Party Doctrine and Carpenter v. United States” examines via teleforum an upcoming Supreme Court case that asks whether a warrant is needed to collect historical cellular phone records that include location information.
  • Two more Federalist Society events round out this week’s extremely light calendarOn Tuesday, Acting FTC Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen joins a teleforum looking at “Patents and Antitrust Worldwide,” focused on smartphone patent battles and the application of “reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms,” or RAND, to disputes between smartphone manufacturers. Finally, on Friday, the Society examines the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, hosting a teleforum titled “Is There a ‘Death Squad’ at the U.S. Patent Office?” 

    Edward Wyatt is a senior vice president at Sphere Consulting LLC, which he joined in May 2015 following a 20-year career as a reporter and correspondent for The New York Times. He works with public affairs clients in the financial services, technology and industrial sectors.

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