Powerball, Panda-monium and a Looming Shutdown: Your Saturday US Briefing

Something for the weekend.

(Bloomberg) — The imminent government shutdown is weighing on everyone. Here in California, we’re worried that if Congress doesn’t reach an agreement by midnight Saturday in Washington, lines will be longer at airports, and national parks including Joshua Tree will close. House Republicans need to get their act together and pound out some type of resolution–stat. The handful of GOP members pushing for a protracted shutdown “have, frankly, been stuck on stupid,” said GOP Congressman Mike Lawler, 37, who represents a district in the New York suburbs.

Stocks had a lousy quarter, with the S&P 500 losing 3.7%, its first negative three-month period since the third-quarter of last year. In addition to shutdown anxiety, investors are pessimistic about higher energy costs and labor disruptions: The United Auto Workers extended plans on Friday for walkouts at more Ford and GM assembly plants. Meanwhile, Tesla deliveries probably slowed in the third quarter, the first decline since early 2022, writes Dana Hull. 

There’s more bad news if you’re from California, Illinois or New York. Revised government figures show that personal income fell in those places last year for the first time since 2009. Ouch. Seven states now show zero growth or worse, up from five before revisions. There’s always tonight’s Powerball drawing, where a $2 ticket gives you the opportunity to win a life-changing $960 million. 

Lottery largess aside, the era of easy money is probably over. While that’s fine if you’re sitting on a pile of cash, anyone with long-dated bonds or needing to borrow funds will suffer. This isn’t a surprise to house-hunters: Buying a starter home is now more expensive than renting in all but three of the 50 top metro areas in the US, according to a Realtor.com study.  Mortgage rates in the US climbed to the highest since 2000, clocking an average 7.31% for a 30-year, fixed loan. 

Child care spots are going to get harder to find and more expensive, which could mean fewer women in the workforce going forward. A $24 billion fund set up by the Biden administration in March 2021 to supplement salaries for childcare providers and teachers  as part of the pandemic-era American Rescue Plan expired. “We have to think about this as a really big issue,’’ said Shelley Zalis, CEO of the Female Quotient. “This is a problem for the economy, for families, for corporations.’’

Long before she became a symbol of an aging Senate, Dianne Feinstein was California’s most admired politician. Reserved, revered in her day, omnipresent, Feinstein was through her 60 years of public life California’s version of the Queen. And like Queen Elizabeth II, Feinstein continued working until the last day of her long life, casting her final vote to avert a government shutdown only hours before she died in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night at the age of 90.

If you weren’t already in a bad mood, China is taking back its pandas. Fans will have until December to see them at the National Zoo in Washington (shutdown permitting) and slightly more time to see their roly-poly cuteness in Atlanta, San Diego or Memphis. If you really love pandas, you could consider a trek to China’s Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, which has been so successful at multiplying the  the rarest member of the bear family that it’s no longer considered endangered.Check back with us tomorrow for a look-ahead to the coming week. 

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