Washington week ahead: Guantanamo - the fall-out

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Policy on Guantanamo Bay detainees and military tribunals comes under the spotlight this week with Senate hearings following the US Supreme Court’s ruling that the military commissions the US created to try prisoners at Guantanamo were unlawful.

Monday

Hank Paulson, former Goldman Sachs chief,is sworn in today as US Treasury secretary. He arrives amid a flurry of interest not only in the economic data before next month’s Fed policy-meeting, but also in what Mr Paulson has planned for the economy over the longer term.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today meets her British counterpart Margaret Beckett in Washington to discuss foreign policy issues.

Economic data: As the US imports more and exports less, consumers continue to turn to credit to pay for their purchases. April brought a spike in non-mortgage borrowing, up $10.6bn, from the previous month’s $1.4bn. Economists point to the slowing housing market decreasing the amount homeowners have available through home equity loans, which may show up in today’s consumer credit numbers; Sales at US wholesalers in April were up 1.3 per cent while inventories were only up 0.9 per cent. This had lead economists to conclude that attempts to lessen the tightening of inventories will add to second quarter GDP. Today sees the May figures.

Tuesday

Senate Judiciary hearing on the Hamdan Guantanamo decision and military tribunals.

The Senate also holds hearings on renewable energy and internet security. The US began a dialogue over renewable energy after George W. Bush, US President, said the nation was ‘addicted’ to oil earlier this year.

Unstable Middle East strains nerves of oil-addicted nations

Wednesday

Senate armed services committee hearing on military tribunals.

Economic data: Slowing demand for imports and petroleum lead to a smaller growth in April’s trade deficit. The gap between what the US imports and what it exports rose to $63.4bn from $61.9bn, coming in under the expectations of $65bn. One explanation put forward is that high gas prices have deterred consumers. With gas prices remaining high, analysts expect the numbers for May, released today, to continue their upward trend.

Growth in trade deficit less than expected

Friday

President George W. Bush is due to arrive in Russia for the G8 summit in St Petersburg

Economic data: May’s import prices were up 1.6 per cent, stronger than analysts had predicted. In addition to those figures released today, economists will see business inventories, which were up less than expected in April; June retail sales.

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