On the Wire | News & Analysis from the Web for the Week of September 17

With its last easy decision, Fed will try to avoid adding fuel to the fire.  MarketWatch 9/24
“Ask any Wall Street economist if the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its September meeting and the answer is “of course.”  “For now, the FOMC appears comfortable with quarterly rate hikes,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays, with the economy continuing to hum, the unemployment rate around 18-year lows, and core inflation just about at the Fed’s 2% target. . . .”


The Trump administration’s secret anti-China plans.  Axios 9/23
“The Trump administration is planning to launch a major, “administration-wide,” broadside against China, according to two sources briefed on the sensitive internal discussions. These sources, who weren’t authorized to discuss the plans with the media, told me the effort is expected to launch in the next few weeks. . . .”


Trump’s Next Tariff Barrage Ready to Roll as China Scraps Talks.  Bloomberg 9/22
“The U.S. and China are hours away from a new round of tariffs on each other’s goods, with no improvement in relations between the two rivals in sight.  In a significant escalation, $200 billion of Chinese products will be subject to increased tariffs from 12:00 p.m. Beijing time on Monday, on top of the $50 billion in goods already charged higher duties earlier in the year. The combined $250 billion in products facing levies is almost half the value of imports from China last year. . . .”


Forecasters unanimous: U.S.-China trade war bad for economy – Reuters poll.  Reuters 9/19
“The U.S. economy will expand at a robust pace in coming quarters but slow to 2 percent by the end of 2019, according to forecasters polled by Reuters who unanimously said the escalating trade war with China was bad economic policy. . . .”


Next Generation Broadband: Making Regulations Work for Innovation.  ShopFloor 9/19
“Later this month, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will vote on a proposal to modernize existing regulations to speed the deployment of next generation wireless across the country. FCC Commissioner Carr recently unveiled a plan to support the buildout of 5G, noting the need “to update our rules to match this revolutionary new technology.” Manufacturers agree and support Commissioner Carr’s proposal, along with a similar effort in the Senate with Chairman Thune’s STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act (S.3157). . . .”


Canada PM urges some U.S. flexibility in NAFTA, talks seen slow.  Reuters 9/19
“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday he wanted to see flexibility from the United States if the two sides are to reach a deal on renewing NAFTA, which Washington insists must be finished by the end of the month. . . .”


US business groups lay out priorities to ensure their support for NAFTA.  The Hill 9/18
“Leaders of three of the nation’s most powerful business groups detailed six priorities they say need to be fulfilled to earn their support for an update of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to get through Congress. . . .”


SEC Withdraws Proxy Firm No-Action Letters.  ShopFloor 9/18
“Investment advisers owe a fiduciary duty to the middle-class Americans whose retirement accounts they manage. Their decisions on how to vote an investor’s shares in corporate proxy contests must be guided by the investor’s best interests. But how can an investment adviser guard against any conflicts of interest that he or she may have and ensure that all proxy voting decisions are made in the best interest of the investor? It’s a good question, and one that helps explain why actions taken last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are so important. . . .”


Trump imposes tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, escalating trade war to include many household items.  LA Times 9/17
“The Trump administration on Monday announced new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, a sharp escalation of its trade fight with Beijing that will also exact costs on a wide range of American businesses and consumers. . . .”


Why the NLRB’s New Proposed ‘Joint-Employer’ Standard Is a Win for U.S. Manufacturing Workers.  ShopFloor 9/17
“On Friday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took important action that will help manufacturers, workers and our economy by creating a more reliable and workable “joint-employer” standard (i.e., the legal test for determining if more than one entity is the individual’s “employer” and thus liable for labor law violations). This represents a sharp and positive departure from the Obama NLRB’s Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) decision in 2015. . . .”


A new approach to EU-US trade: Less is more.  Politico 9/17
“Brussels and Washington believe they have found a recipe for a speedy transatlantic trade deal: Think small. . . .”


Manufacturers in August Had the Best Year-Over-Year Production Growth Since 2012.  ShopFloor 9/14
“The Federal Reserve reported that manufacturing production increased 0.2 percent in August, rising for the third straight month or in four of the past five months. The sector continues to see strong growth, with manufacturing output up 3.1 percent over the past 12 months, the best year-over-year rate since June 2012. Similarly, manufacturing capacity utilization inched up from 75.7 percent in July to 75.8 percent in August, a four-month high. Overall, manufacturing remains one of the bright spots in the economy right now, with business leaders continuing to report solid gains in sales, output and employment. Manufacturers have benefited from pro-growth policies, including tax and regulatory reform, as well as pent-up demand globally. . . .”