Two Stock Records And An Ugly Scene At The House

Watch for frenzied news coverage at month's end as stock traders target two landmarks for the Dow and NASDAQ.

Stock traders have two goals in mind for February’s month-end. The first goal is to close the Dow on Friday at the current level or higher, locking in the largest ever single-month point gain for the Dow. The second goal is to push the NASDAQ up 33 points over the next two days. A 33-point gain would put the NASDAQ back at 5,000 for the first time since 2000. The NASDAQ has closed at 5,000 or higher on only two days with the peak being 5,048 on March 10, 2000.

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That’s Wall Street. Over on Capitol Hill, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s second day of Congressional testimony, this time before the House of Representatives, produced no headlines regarding monetary policy. But it produced one ugly scene when three different members of Congress virtually attacked Yellen. The attacks weren’t policy-based; instead, they accused the chair of partisanship, deal-cutting on policy with the Administration, and interfering with broader policy that doesn’t concern her.

The scene was ugly and disrespectful.

Most long-time Fed observers said they could not remember any chairperson ever under such a direct and hostile attack. I know I have never seen that before. One underlying theme of these attacks is most likely to build a case for greater Congressional oversight of the Fed. With this Congress, I can’t imagine a worse possible outcome. There are a lot of reasonable and well-intentioned members of Congress, so I’ve been told. Let’s hope they can keep the fringe element in check and perhaps teach them some manners.

Dwight Johnston is the chief economist of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and president of Dwight Johnston Economics. He is the author of a popular commentary site and is a frequent speaker at credit union board planning sessions and industry conferences.

February 26, 2015

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