Displaying items by tag: biden
Biden recently made his pick for a critical new position at the DOL: head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration. Lisa Gomez has been nominated and is likely to get bipartisan confirmation. Gomez is seen as critical to the redrafting of the fiduciary rule that is taking place at the DOL. Most industry insiders expect the new version of the fiduciary rule to be much tougher, more akin to the original Obama era rule than the currently in-effect Trump version.
FINSUM: The reality is that if a critical new person is being brought on board to lead the effort, it is likely to push back the timeline, or so says Brad Campbell, leading regulatory lawyer at Faegre Drinker, a leading law firm in our space.
Sweeping changes to the financial regulatory landscape are coming quickly. Stemming from changes to the interpretation of a Trump-age exemption are widening the regulatory umbrella. The U.S. The Labor Department is pushing a variety of accounts including annuities to be included in this expansion. Hidden and/or lofty fees in these areas are the source of the concern and lawmakers want the ‘best interests’ of investors in mind. Many companies are sprinting to align themselves with the regulation. Complying will include recordkeeping requirements, new policies and procedures, and new disclosures.
FINSUM: The drastic changes to regulation will really start to come in at the start of the year, and could monumentally alter the annuities market.
President Biden renominated Jerome Powell as Fed Chair on Monday this week in perhaps the purest bi-partisan reaction from the President since he entered office. The news was celebrated on wall street as both the bond and equity markets felt the reprieve. Additionally, Republicans on the senate banking committee rejoiced at the pick given Powell’s historical ties to the republican party. Powell was assumed to be in a close contest for the Fed position with Lael Brainard, but ultimately continuity was valued moving into the next phase of the post-covid recession. Still Powell’s road is difficult moving forward given sluggish employment and growth, and rising inflationary pressures.
FINSUM: This was a wise decision by Biden politically, and markets trust Powell to be dovish even as a republican which is the best of both worlds for the economy.
Inflation is as buzzy as it has been since the 1970s, and the nation’s energy crisis is drawing another parallel to that decade. In an attempt to curb oil prices Biden released the nation's oil reserves hoping to drive down gas prices. However, earlier this year Biden tried to pressure OPEC+ to increase production to put downward pressure on prices and they rejected. Sure, if OPEC+ maintains production or actually increases (as they had stated they would) then prices will fall, but OPEC+ and other oil producers like Russia target a $70+ per barrel price point to optimize their profits. Many are speculating that this will cause OPEC+ to pull back production after their meeting in December, and spark a rift between oil producers and consumers like the U.S.
FINSUM: This is a desperate attempt by Biden to control prices which there has been little to no precedent for in past presidencies. This could blow up by hurting U.S. producers more and leaving oil prices unchanged.
The $2 trillion Build Back Bill pushed through a contested House of Representatives last week and the climate and social-focused stimulus bill have a complicated tax code in order to garner support. BBB features a dynamic tax system with moving parts that evolves as years develop. Most significant of which is a tax break of about 5.4% relative to current legislation for those earning more than $1 million a year. This tax breaks scales down in income down to $75k, but spikes below that. However, this tax break is very temporary as the lion’s share of the legislation will be paid by higher income individuals. There are other benefits for the rich such as SALT relief, but by and large, starting in 2023 higher corporate taxes and a bump in personal income taxes of 5% will begin to take effect.
FINSUM: Biden’s BBB could be a bad storm of events for the economy where stimulus boosts inflation and higher taxes keep markets and real growth from keeping up.