Economy Watch: President Vetoes Bill Over Foreclosure Worries

H.R. 3808, the "Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010," didn't begin life as a controversial piece of legislation.

October 8, 2010
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user marcn

H.R. 3808, the “Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010,” didn’t begin life as a controversial piece of legislation. In fact, most of the members of Congress who voted for it probably had little more than a nodding acquaintance with the gist of the legislation, which was to make it easier for notarized documents to be accepted across state lines. On the face of it, that sounds reasonable enough.

On Thursday, President Obama vetoed the bill–pocket vetoed it, actually, which is a way of vetoing a bill by not acting on it within 10 days of a Congressional adjournment. “While we share this goal, we believe it is necessary to have further deliberations about the intended and unintended impact of this bill on consumer protections, including those for mortgages, before this bill can be finalized,” a White House statement said on Thursday.

The mortgage foreclosure kerfuffle has thus come to the attention of the president. That “unintended impact” of the bill by some estimates might include a further greasing of the path to foreclosure at a time when that process has come under question and scrutiny. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), said in a statement on Thursday that there is “absolutely no connection whatsoever” between H.R. 3808 and “the recent foreclosure documentation problems.”

Retailers See September Sales Uptick

Retailers got an unexpected gift from consumers during September, with a number of large chains seeing sales improvements. According to the latest Thomson Reuters survey published on Thursday, about three-quarters of chains reporting monthly same-stores sales numbers, an important retail metric, were ahead of expectation.

Strong players included Limited–parent of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works–whose September same-store sales spiked 12 percent compared with the same month last year, and the teen-oriented retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, whose same-store sales grew 13 percent year-over-year. Considering how hard they were hit by the recession, department stores did reasonably well, with Dillard’s and Macy’s Inc. turning in same-store sales increases for September of 3 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.

Of course, it could be pointed out that 2009 was a generally lousy year for most retailers, Wal-Mart and dollar stores expected, and thus the same-store sales bar is fairly low in 2010. Yet not all major chains saw a sizable surge in same-store sales in September. Gap Inc. posted a 2 percent same-store sales increase, for example: the company’s Gap North America experienced a 1 percent drop in same-store sales; Old Navy was down 5 percent; and Banana Republic was flat.

Some Reasonably Good Jobs Numbers

Just ahead of Friday’s official monthly unemployment numbers, the U.S. Department of Labor reported on Thursday that during the week ending Oct. 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 445,000, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 456,000.

The September Monster Employment Index was more optimistic. The index, which gauges job demand based on a review of career web sites and job boards, recorded its eighth consecutive month of positive year-over-year growth during September, with a growth rate of 16 percent. This is an accelerated rate from the 12 percent in the previous month, but less than the peak of 21 percent seen during June and July.

On Thursday, Wall Street again couldn’t make up its mind on whether to advance or decline, so it did both again. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 19.07 points, or 0.17 percent, while the S&P 500 was down 0.16 percent. The Nasdaq posted a gain of 0.13 percent, however.