Feb 14, 2017

Big in Business: Janet Yellen faces Congress

Alex Brandon / AP

Janet Yellen begins today the first of two days of testimony before the new Congress, where she will likely be asked to defend the Fed's interest rate policy and the central bank's record on banking regulation. She'll be coy concerning the next rate hike, but offer a full-throated defense of Dodd-Frank. Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Economics also predicts Yellen will "gently suggest" that fiscal stimulus is not needed, an argument sure to warm the hearts of budget hawks.

Wilbur Ross doesn't divest: The billionaire, incoming Commerce Secretary has declined to divest himself of interest in 11 different companies, though he is selling his ownership in 80 more, the Wall Street Journal reports. The ownership stakes he is retaining however, have already prompted conflict-of-interest accusations. For instance, Ross will retain ownership of shipping concerns, even though the Commerce Secretary has broad powers over issues like international trade, which greatly affect industry profits.

S&P 500 cracks $20 trillion: The overall value of the S&P 500 grew to more than $20 trillion for the first time ever Monday — driven by a combination monetary stimulus, a stable recovery, optimism about the American economy, and solid corporate profits. Investors, however, should use the occasion to question whether the market has gotten ahead of itself, given the many risks—like the threat of trade wars—loom over the global economy.

Go deeper

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Top NSC official may be moved after "Anonymous" rumor fallout

President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion for climate change research

Bezos at Amazon Smbhav in New Delhi on Jan. 15. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of his "Earth Fund" on Monday via Instagram to fund climate change research and awareness.

What he's saying: Bezos says he's initially committing $10 billion to fund "scientists, activists, and NGOS" that are working on environmental preservation and protection efforts.