Feds On Verge of Shutdown?

Is the federal government going to shut down because of the fracas between zealous House members (including freshmen who weren't around for the '95 shutdown), somewhat less zealous members of Congress, and the administration? The House passed by 235-189 a bill that cut more than $61 billion from fiscal 2011--the year under way--as part of a temporary funding measure.

February 22, 2011
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons geetarchurchy

Is the federal government going to shut down because of the fracas between zealous House members (including freshmen who weren’t around for the ’95 shutdown), somewhat less zealous members of Congress, and the administration? The House passed by 235-189 a bill that cut more than $61 billion from fiscal 2011–the year under way–as part of a temporary funding measure.

The Senate is not expected to go along with it when it returns in early March, and the Obama administration has made it clear it would veto a bill with certain cuts anyway. Both parties are presumably busy at the moment cooking up ways to blame each other should things come to a shutdown.

In any case, the clock is ticking. The current temporary funding measure will expire March 4. Yet the impact may be more psychological than anything else, since most agencies have for-the-time-being contingency plans to keep running in the event of just such a shutdown.

Not All Luxury Retailers in the Money

Borders isn’t the only retailer hitting the skids lately. Regional furniture store Robb & Stucky filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of last week, citing the poor housing market as the reason. While not a national name, Robb & Stucky have been a fixture for many years in the carriage trade in Florida, where it has stores in the likes of Boca Raton’s Mizner Park and Palm Beach Gardens.

In the end, however, the Florida housing market, which endured the pop of one of the larger bubbles anywhere in the country, proved too much for Robb & Stucky. Even those homeowners who held onto their homes felt little urge to buy fancy furniture for them in the wake of the market collapse. The company announced simultaneously with its bankruptcy that it is “endeavoring to locate a buyer that will maintain the company’s brand standards.”

Still, the Florida furniture retailers is one of the unhappy exceptions among upper-end retailers recently, with that end of the retail market bouncing back from the recession almost as vigorously as the discount end of the business. In December, a good number of high-end retailers– such nationals as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks and Tiffany–posted year-over-year same-store sales gains of as much as 10 percent.

Wall Street, closed for the holiday on Monday, saw a moderate up day on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 73.11 points, or 0.59 percent. The S&P 500 was up 0.19 percent and the Nasdaq advanced a scant 0.08 percent.