Yellen sworn in to lead Fed
WASHINGTON – Janet Yellen was sworn in Monday to succeed Ben Bernanke, becoming the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve in its 100-year history.
Yellen was sworn in by Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo, the senior member of the Fed’s seven-member board.
She took the oath in a brief ceremony in front of a fireplace in the Fed’s massive board room. Her husband, Nobel-winning economist George Akerloff, was present as were other Fed board members and Fed staff.
Yellen, 67, made no remarks at her swearing-in but did smile to acknowledge the applause of the assembled group.
Nominated by President Barack Obama on Oct. 9, her four-year term as chairman will end on Feb. 3, 2018.
Manufacturing activity falls
WASHINGTON – U.S. manufacturing barely expanded last month as cold weather delayed shipments of raw materials and caused some factories to shut down.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Monday that its index of manufacturing activity fell to 51.3 in January from 56.5 in December. It was the lowest reading since May, though any reading above 50 signals growth. Manufacturers said export orders grew at a healthy pace but slightly less than in the previous month.
The figures suggest that U.S. manufacturing is slowing after a strong finish to last year. Auto sales have decelerated, and businesses are spending cautiously on machinery and other large factory goods. The slowdown means that economic growth in the first three months of this year may be less than the strong 3.6 percent annual pace in the second half of 2013.
Monday’s report showed that a measure of new orders plummeted 13.2 points to 51.2. That is the steepest drop since December 1980.
21.9M vehicles recalled in 2013
DETROIT – Automakers recalled 21.9 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, a nine-year high.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says automakers initiated 632 separate vehicle recalls in 2013, up 9 percent from the prior year.
Companies are saving money by using more common parts. But that can force them to recall many more vehicles when something goes wrong.
Chrysler Group initiated the most recalls, with 36. Among those was a recall of 282,000 minivans whose air bags could deploy on the wrong side. In all, Chrysler recalled 4.7 million vehicles.
After Chrysler, General Motors had the most recalls, with 23. Mazda had the fewest, with two.
Toyota recalled the most vehicles, with 5.3 million in 15 separate recalls.
Mercedes-Benz recalled the fewest vehicles, with 747.
Labeling rules upset some
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Meat and livestock groups upset that Congress opted in the new farm bill not to back off from mandatory country of origin labeling requirements are worried that the issue could start a trade war with Canada and Mexico.
Previous labeling rules required only the country of origin to be noted, such as “Product of U.S.” or “Product of U.S. and Canada.” New rules require labels for steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat include clear information about where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.
South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association President Cory Eich says that’s a lot of information that doesn’t really guarantee anything.
Congress’ decision not to address the issue has drawn criticism from Canadian officials. They say the country may retaliate by imposing tariffs on American products.