The look ahead: How will Greece, a slowdown in China impact US outlook?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may provide clues about the health of the US economy when he speaks before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee on June 7th.

Bernanke’s speech to the committee is just two weeks ahead of an important Federal Reserve meeting scheduled for June 19th and 20th. He may provide the committee members with more clarity on whether to expect new policies from the meeting.

Investors are focused on Greece’s possible exit from the euro zone, a potential hard landing for the slowing Chinese economy and the shaky recovery of the US economy. The Federal Reserve has remained steadfast in its policy to lower borrowing costs, but it may have to make some policy moves if Europe’s woes weigh on the tepid US recovery, Reuters reported

Another clue on the US outlook may be consumer credit figures the Federal Reserve releases June 7th. Consumers have been borrowing more since October. In March, outstanding consumer credit continued its sizable gains.

US productivity

Revised figures due out June 6th will indicate whether US businesses in the first three months of the year really reached a limit of how much efficiency they could wring from the workforce.

Preliminary first-quarter productivity and labor cost figures, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, suggested that employers had to take on more staff at the start of the year even as growth slowed, because they could no longer count on existing staff to meet demand, according to Bloomberg.

Economists expected the first-quarter drop in productivity and consider it a positive sign for the labor market. Flat US wages are helping revive US manufacturing employment, The Wall Street Journal reported.

European writedowns

The EU is scheduled to publish plans June 6th that propose giving regulators the power to impose writedowns on senior unsecured creditors at failing banks. The plans are part of measures to prevent taxpayers from footing the bill for saving crisis-hit lenders.

The writedown powers would apply to senior unsecured debt and derivatives, while some other claims, including secured debt and deposits that are protected by government guarantee programs, would be shielded from the losses, according to Bloomberg News.

The plans will have to be agreed on by finance ministers from the EU’s 27 member states and members of the European Parliament before they become law.

Health care in Europe

The sustainability of health care systems in Europe will be the focus of the annual European Public Health Alliance conference scheduled for June 6th in Brussels, Belgium.

The objective of the conference is to assess how the current financial crisis and its policy responses affect health systems.

Scheduled to take part in the discussion: EU Commissioner John Dalli; Sanjeev Gupta, deputy director of the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund; and Zsuzsanna Jakab, the World Health Organization regional director for Europe. They will discuss with civil society organisations the impact of the crisis and the way forward.

Revenue recognition on FASB’s agenda

FASB is expected to discuss revenue recognition and defining nonpublic entities during its board meeting June 6th.

Not-for-profit financial reporting and impairment of indefinite-lived intangible assets also are topics on FASB’s agenda. In addition, FASB has scheduled education sessions from 1 to 5 p.m. EDT on June 6th on:

  • Classification and measurement in accounting for financial instruments.
  • Insurance.
  • Impairment in accounting for financial instruments.
  • Investment company accounting.

An additional educational session on insurance will be held from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on June 7th.

The sessions will be available via webcast on FASB’s website.

Also, FASB will hold its quarterly meeting with the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council (FASAC) on Tuesday.

FASAC is comprised of CEOs, CFOs, senior partners of public accounting firms, executive directors of professional organisations, academics and analysts that advises FASB on issues on the board’s agenda, possible new agenda items, project priorities and procedural matters that may require FASB’s attention.

From CGMA Magazine staff reports