Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said Monday that conditions seem right for a rise in interest rates, but he cautioned that with an improving economy, a major infrastructure-building program implemented purely to stimulate the economy could be ill-timed.
While inflation remains too low to meet the Fed targets and wage growth is still weak, the U.S. labor market is "kind of tight," he said in a speech to the Executives Club of Chicago. "We are very close to full employment."
That's a term the Federal Reserve uses when most people who want jobs and are able to work have jobs.
In such an environment, he said he wouldn't favor a program to build roads, bridges and other infrastructure merely as a means to stimulate the economy. But he said the country needs a program for building highways, bridges "and things we need. An infrastructure plan would be terrific."
With unemployment at 4.6 percent, he said, "You don't need stimulus; you do need a plan for roads and bridges."
In the past, some economists advocated an infrastructure spending plan to bring life to an economy going through a slow post-recession recovery, but Congress has been reluctant to take on a major spending plan.
During the recent presidential campaign, candidates from both parties talked about rebuilding infrastructure to strengthen the economy. And Illinois stocks such as Deere & Co. and Caterpillar have soared in anticipation of an infrastructure-building program that presumably would be spearheaded by President-elect Donald Trump. During the last three months, Deere stock has climbed almost 22 percent and Caterpillar is up almost 17 percent. Both make machinery used to dig and move dirt for construction.
Evans said conditions in the economy suggest a trend toward the 2 percent inflation level the Federal Reserve wants to see as a sign of a stronger economy. With the buildup in employment and other signs of strength, the Fed is widely expected to raise rates at its next meeting Dec. 13 and 14.
Evans is expecting the economy to grow about 2 to 2.5 percent in 2017, and he said corporate tax cuts could help stimulate growth. Yet while Trump has said he plans to push for tax cuts, Evans said it was too early to predict the impact because specifics are not yet clear.
Apart from domestic policy, Evans said the U.S. economy has been held back by slow growth throughout the world. U.S. companies have been reluctant to invest in new equipment and facilities because demand for products has been slow, said Evans.
"The U.S. economy is the strongest in the world," he said. Yet he noted headwinds such as an aging population that will continue to be a drag on growth and perhaps fight against the 3 or 4 percent growth that has occurred after previous recoveries.
Story highlightsHillary Clinton and Donald Trump pointed to different problems behind two police shootingsClinton and Trump are both courting African-American votersWhen asked how he would stop violence in the black community, Trump said he would take the controversial stop-and-frisk practice nationwide. "I think you have to," the Republican nominee said at a town hall with Fox News host and Trump supporter Sean Hannity. "We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically." Civil liberties groups have blasted the practice as targeting minorities and some investigators have questioned its effectiveness.Trump touts stop-and-frisk practice amid black outreachMeanwhile, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said the Democratic nominee plans to develop national standards for police intended to "prevent situations like this." Speaking on CNN's "New Day," Mook said Clinton wants to "restore bonds between communities and law enforcement." That, he said, would involve "investing in community policing and making sure that local police have the resources to build the relationships in the community to prevent something like this from happening."The candidates -- just days away from their first in-person clash on the debate stage -- were also far apart on the underlying causes of the shootings. Clinton connected police shootings to "systemic racism" while Trump suggested the officer in Oklahoma "choked."Comments carry weight This is not the first time Trump or Clinton have addressed police shootings during this lengthy campaign season. But as the race nears its conclusion in less than two months, their comments carry even more weight. And the stakes are especially high since one of the shootings occurred in North Carolina, a critical swing state with a sizable African-American population that both campaigns are working hard to reach. Trump and Clinton hit the campaign trail following an evening of protests and occasional violence in Charlotte after police killed Keith Lamont Scott in an apartment complex parking lot as officers looked for another man named in a warrant they were trying to serve. That followed the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last week after his car was found abandoned in the middle of the road.Trump 'very troubled' by Oklahoma fatal police shootingClinton addressed the shootings in a speech in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon. "There is still much we don't know yet about what happened in both incidents. But we do know that we have two more names to add to a list of African-Americans killed by police officers in these encounters," Clinton said. "It's unbearable. And it needs to become intolerable."She said she's spoken with law enforcement leaders "who are as deeply concerned as I am, and as deeply committed as I am to reform." And, she said, she's spoken with mothers whose children have been killed, "and young people who feel that, as far as their country's concerned, their lives seem disposable." "We've got to do better. And I know we can. And if I'm elected president, we will. And we will do it exactly together, which is the only way it can be done," Clinton said. Trump tweeted calls for unity following the violence in Charlotte. His comment during the Fox town hall that the female officer involved in the Tulsa shooting might have "choked" was notable considering he typically emphasizes support for law enforcement officers. But Trump said he'd seen the widely circulated video of the incident in Tulsa. "That man went to the car, hands up -- put his hands on the car," Trump said. "To me it looked like he did everything you're supposed to do. And he looked like a really good man."Christie vs. ClintonMeanwhile, one of Trump's top supporters -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- lambasted Clinton for her response on conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham's show. In a radio interview Tuesday, Clinton had cited the need to address "systemic racism" and "implicit bias" in police forces -- while praising "honorable, cool-headed police officers." 2016: Last call for working class whites?Christie labeled those remarks a "disgrace" Wednesday."She's a disgrace. She's a disgrace and those comments are a disgrace," Christie said Wednesday on "The Laura Ingraham Show." "It's typical of Hillary Clinton. She knows nothing but the mouth never stops."Trump, however, has also displayed a tendency to speak about events before all the facts are made clear. He notably called the explosion in New York City over the weekend a "bomb" 30 minutes after the incident, despite a lack of official confirmation.African-American outreachThe shootings come as Trump and Clinton confront unique challenges with African-American voters. Clinton's weakness is among millennial voters across the board -- many of whom have told pollsters they are gravitating toward Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Trump, meanwhile, is attempting to chip into Clinton's commanding lead among African-American voters overall while also appealing to white voters who tend to support the GOP but have been turned off by his rhetoric. That effort hit turbulence Wednesday when Trump campaigned alongside long-time boxing promoter Don King Wednesday in Ohio. King, who is black, used the N-word while introducing Trump, arguing that African-Americans cannot achieve success while emulating whites because they will remain "negroes." "If you're poor, you are a poor negro -- I would use the n-word -- but if you're rich, you are a rich negro. If you are intelligent, intellectual, you are intellectual negro. If you are a dancing and sliding and gliding n***** -- I mean negro -- you are a dancing and sliding and gliding negro," King said, laughing along with the crowd after the slip-up. "You're going to be a negro 'til you die."The political history of Don KingTrump also caused controversy Tuesday night when he told a nearly all-white crowd in North Carolina that "we're going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they've ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever."His remark -- ignoring the nation's deeply flawed history of slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation and more -- drew a stern rebuke Wednesday from Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and hero of the civil rights movement. "Is he saying that the conditions are worse than slavery? Is he saying that the conditions are worse than the signs that I that saw when I was growing up that said 'white men,' 'colored men,' 'white women,' 'colored women?'" Lewis said. "Where is he coming from?"
Photo The stage at the Trump SoHo hotel on Wednesday before Donald J. Trumps speech. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times Donald J. Trump put his finger firmly on the reset button on Wednesday, with a speech that savaged Hillary Clinton as untrustworthy, corrupt and out only for herself. It was Mr. Trumps best day since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee in May.
Whether he can hold the momentum remains to be seen. He will leave for a trip to Scotland on Thursday night, a two-day jaunt centered on his golf courses. Such trips pose risks for any candidate, but particularly one moored to a private enterprise rather than to burnishing foreign policy credentials, particularly at a moment of deep political tumult in Britain.
Mr. Trump, however, is said to view the trip as an opportunity to refresh himself and his candidacy after a brutal few weeks.
Mrs. Clintons campaign fought to minimize any traction Mr. Trump could gain from his speech. Her campaign announced an endorsement from Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser to two Republican presidents, which is unsurprising given that much of the foreign policy establishment opposes Mr. Trump. But the endorsement allowed her to push back on the rougher aspects of Mr. Trumps speech about her time as secretary of state.
Mrs. Clintons advisers continue to believe the issue set will favor them in the fall over Mr. Trump, even if he does string together some good days. Mr. Trump has repeatedly emphasized his support from the National Rifle Association, a contrast as congressional Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor to demand gun control measures in the wake of the shooting in Orlando, Fla. Background checks for gun purchasers, for instance, are popular with a majority of voters nationally.
Mrs. Clinton has real vulnerabilities. But Mr. Trump has only just now started exploiting them, and her allies hope it comes after he has done the most damage to himself.
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Donald Trump has a big lead in polling in his home state of New York, but he won't be getting the votes of two of his biggest advocates there: His kids.
Donald Trump with Ivanka Trump on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images File
Trump conceded Monday that two of his children Eric and Ivanka Trump failed to register as Republicans in the state in time to be eligible to vote for him in New York's April 19 primary.
"They were unaware of the rules and they didn't register in time," Trump said on Fox News. "So they feel very, very guilty. They feel very guilty but it's fine."
The deadline for new voters to register to vote in New York's closed primary was March 25, and the deadline to change party affiliation was back in October.
"Eric and Ivanka, I guess, won't be voting," Trump said.
Trump's campaign has been plagued in recent weeks by poor organization in local and state-level Republican conventions, where delegates to the Republican National Convention are selected.
In several states over the weekend, the delegates chosen at the party gatherings were Ted Cruz's loyalists, who could support the Texas senator on the convention floor if the nomination race goes to a second ballot.
In the wake of each of America's all-too-regular mass shootings - particularly in an election year - political candidates weigh in quickly with what have become cookie-cutter responses to the carnage.
Nearly without exception, Democrats exclaim that the latest violence should be a tipping point to rally support for "common-sense gun reforms," while Republicans insist that the best solution to gun violence is to "enforce the laws already on the books." Those on the left grimly compare U.S. laws to the virtual gun bans in many European countries; those on the right point to some high levels of gun violence here at home in jurisdictions with the most draconian restrictions.
Why the rote statements? The two parties simply look very different on the issue - and very different from where the American electorate at large stands, as well.
According to a poll released by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal in mid-October, a slim majority - 55 percent - of the public says that gun laws should be more strict, while just nine percent want to see the laws made looser. About a third - 34 percent - believe that current gun laws should be kept as is.
But delving into the views of the primary electorates shows a very different picture.
Among Republican primary voters, a majority - 53 percent - say that current gun laws should not be changed at all. Seventeen percent want less strict regulations, while just 28 percent want more stringent laws.
But among Democratic primary voters, a huge majority - 83 percent - say that there should be stricter laws, while just 13 percent believe the laws on the books are sufficient. A tiny three percent want to see loosening of current rules.
Story highlights Putin signs a decree with punitive economic measures aimed at TurkeyThe two nations have been at odd after Turkey shot down a Russian warplaneTurkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeals for dialogue with Russia, saying, "Let's settle it"Turkish Prime Minister strikes conciliatory tone after downing of Russian jet
Tuesday's incident has put Russia and Turkey, which is a member of NATO, at odds. The countries disagree sharply on whether the Russian plane was in Turkish airspace when it was shot down, as well as whether any warnings went out to the crew. The incident left one pilot dead; another was rescued.
The entire ordeal has raised questions about international leaders' ability to come together to combat ISIS, which has taken over swaths of Syria and Iraq and claimed attacks in Europe, Asia and Africa.
One day after saying Turkey fired missiles as "an automatic reaction to a border breach" -- and not knowing the nationality of the plane in question -- Erdogan said Saturday, "We wouldn't have wished this to happen. But, unfortunately, it did."
Obama: Turkey has the right to defend itself and its airspace
The powerful Turkish leader didn't lash out at Russia but appeared intent on taking the high road by claiming that "Turkey has never been in favor of triggering tensions and clashes, and we never will be."
"I hope this will not happen again," Erdogan said at an event in Balikesir. "As long as our sovereign rights are not violated, our struggle will continue through diplomatic channels, adhering to international laws and agreements.
The President added, "We hope that the tensions with Russia will not grow and result in more saddening incidents."
Opinion: Russia will want to make Turkey pay
In fact, Erdogan appealed for dialogue, saying the upcoming U.N. climate change conference in Paris, which he and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to attend, would be a good place to have such talks. (This week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin knew that Erdogan had asked to meet with him in France but gave no word on whether the request would be accepted.)
"We tell Russia, 'Let's talk about this issue within its boundaries, and let's settle it,' " Erdogan said Saturday. "Let's not make others happy by escalating it to a level that would hurt all our relations.' "
Putin has accused Turkey of trying to bring its relations with Russia to a "dead end," calling the shootdown "a stab in the back" and tying Turkey to terrorists. Another point of contention: Russia claimed that its planes were bombing ISIS militants in the area, though Erdogan has said that only Turkmen -- "our brothers and sisters" -- were there at the time.
In an exclusive CNN interview Thursday, the Turkish President defended his military and said Russia's own was at fault.
"I think if there is a party that needs to apologize, it is not us," he said from the Turkish capital. "Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize. Our pilots and our armed forces, they simply fulfilled their duties, which consisted of responding to ... violations of the rules of engagement. I think this is the essence."
Bush backs Obama, Turkey in Russian warplane dispute
Far from apologizing, Russia has instead lashed out at Turkey -- not just with words but with actions, like a decree signed Saturday by Putin.
This measure partially suspends the "visa-free" travel process the countries have had, mandates that Russian travel agencies stop selling tours to Turkey for next year and bans charter transportation between the nations, according to state-run Sputnik news.
This decree also prohibits the import of certain goods from Turkey.
The claimed rationale for all this is spelled out in the decree's name: "Measures to guarantee national security in the Russian Federation and protect Russian citizens against criminal and other illegal actions."
Opinion: How is this not WWIII?