THE TICKER

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wants the federal government to mandate three months of paid family leave for workers. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants to guarantee workers twice as long. 

The issue is one of many separating the economic programs of the two 2020 presidential candidates vying to become the liberal standard-bearer. And where they diverge, Sanders mostly stakes out the more aggressive position. 

That’s one of the revelations from The Post’s new survey of the candidates’ positions on economic issues as they prepare for their fifth debate, set for Wednesday and co-hosted by The Post. 

Sanders stands alone on several issues. 

He is the only candidate in the field, for example, to say the Federal Reserve’s interest rates are too high. “The Fed must become a more democratic institution that represents the needs of ordinary Americans and small businesses, not Wall Street billionaires,” he told The Post’s Kevin Uhrmacher. He said he “disagreed with the Fed’s decision to increase rates from 2015-2018. Raising rates should be done as a last resort, not to fight phantom inflation.”

Warren joined seven of her more moderate competitors — including former vice president Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg — in declining to weigh in on monetary policy, saying the Fed should operate independently of political pressure. “The Fed’s mandate is to balance long-term price stability with full employment,” she said. “I respect the Fed’s independence in setting interest rates to achieve these two goals.”

Sanders is also the only contender to endorse a federal jobs guarantee, telling Uhrmacher that “in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, every American who wants to work should have the right to a decent-paying job through a federal jobs guarantee program.” 

Warren said she’s open to it, pointing to her support for a proposal from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to launch a pilot program that would provide grants for jobs guarantee programs. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) noted she is a co-sponsor of Booker’s bill.

Sanders also wants to cancel all student debt and impose a national rent control cap — two more positions that make him unique in the field. Warren’s student debt plan wouldn’t offer relief to households pulling in more than $250,000, or the top 5 percent of earners. Booker, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro also propose offering relief based on household income. 

Of course, Sanders and Warren line up elsewhere, notably on the broad strokes of tax policy. Both have proposed wealth taxes. And both favor returning the corporate tax rate to 35 percent, along with Buttigieg, Castro, and billionaire activist Tom Steyer. Most of the rest of the field proposes raising it from its current 21 percent but leaving it lower than the old rate: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) wants it at 25 percent; Bennet and Biden would lift it to 28 percent; Gov. Steve Bullock (D-Mont.) backs a 31 percent rate. 

MARKET MOVERS

Optimism powers stock rally. WSJ's Akane Otani: "Stocks’ latest records are a testament to one thing: Investors aren’t worried about a recession happening soon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 28,000 in the very last minute of Friday’s trading session, capping off an otherwise quiet week with its first thousand-point milestone since July.

"Much of the stock market’s dash higher in recent months has been powered by shares of economically sensitive companies like banks, manufacturers and oil producers. That rally, along with the relative underperformance of traditionally safe sectors like utilities and consumer staples, has suggested that money managers are turning more optimistic about the economic outlook."

Fed review finds stable financial system. CNBC's Jeff Cox: "Stock market prices remain high compared to earnings, and corporations, including those at the bottom end of the credit spectrum, continue to run up debt. But financial stability overall remains solid, according to a report Friday from the Federal Reserve. The central bank’s biannual financial stability report also indicated that prices are high for commercial real estate and farmland. It also noted a few incidents where market liquidity deteriorated.

"In all, though, there are no areas identified as posing a threat to the larger stability of U.S. financial markets and the economy. In fact, the report found that the biggest threats come from abroad, through Brexit and other geopolitical risks."

FedEx eliminated its tax bill. The New York Times's Jim Tankersley, Peter Eavis and Ben Casselman: "In the 2017 fiscal year, FedEx owed more than $1.5 billion in taxes. The next year, it owed nothing. What changed was the Trump administration’s tax cut — for which the company had lobbied hard... But it did not increase investment in new equipment and other assets in the fiscal year that followed, as [CEO Fred] Smith said businesses like his would.

"Nearly two years after the tax law passed, the windfall to corporations like FedEx is becoming clear. A New York Times analysis of data compiled by Capital IQ shows no statistically meaningful relationship between the size of the tax cut that companies and industries received and the investments they made. If anything, the companies that received the biggest tax cuts increased their capital investment by less, on average, than companies that got smaller cuts."

  • FedEx's Smith responds. In a statement, Smith called the report "distorted and factually incorrect" but didn't say how. And he issued a challenge: "I hereby challenge A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times and the business section editor to a public debate in Washington, DC with me and the FedEx corporate vice president of tax."
Fewer workers switching jobs may explain why wages have been rising only slowly and inflation staying low, despite low unemployment, some economists say.
WSJ

TRUMP TRACKER

TRADE FLY-AROUND:

— Lighthizer’s moment of truth: “Like a more polished version of his freewheeling boss, [U.S. Trade Representative Robert] Lighthizer has busted precedent, bent rules and left a trail of discomfited traditionalists in his wake. No constituency has been more unsettled than corporate America,” my colleague David J. Lynch reports.

“Now Lighthizer and the business community are awkward partners in a rush to seal two major prizes: a North American trade accord, which awaits lawmakers’ approval, and an unfinished deal with China.”

  • Look who’s on his call sheet: “In September alone, Lighthizer met or spoke by phone with the leaders of Apple, General Motors, Cisco, Dow, UPS, Boeing, Honeywell and Arcelor Mittal, as well as representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, according to his office calendar on the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) website.”
  • But things are still uneasy: “But the stepped-up engagement has produced only an uneasy truce, with business groups remaining deeply skeptical of Lighthizer’s tariff-heavy strategy. ‘There are still points of friction,’ said Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council. ‘There are still major, major concerns about the direction of Trump’s trade policy.’ ”

— Morgan Stanley says trade tensions should ease in 2020: “Morgan Stanley forecasts that global growth will recover from the first quarter of 2020 onward as trade tensions and monetary policy ease, reversing the downward trend of the past seven quarters,” CNBC’s Spencer Kimball reports.

“‘Easing trade tensions (the key factor in the global downturn) will reduce business uncertainty and make policy stimulus more effective,’ the bank’s analysts said in its global outlook for 2020. The firm projects global economic growth of 3.2% next year, compared to 3% in 2019. Much depends, however, on the outcome of U.S.-China trade talks and whether or not the Trump administration’s next round of tariffs, scheduled for Dec. 15, go into effect. If those tariffs are activated, global growth in the final quarter of this year will slow to 2.8% and a recovery will be delayed until the third quarter of 2020, according to Morgan Stanley.”

The Trump administration is set to extend a license that will allow American companies to continue doing business with the Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
NYT

TRUMP WATCH:

— Trump headed to Texas on Wednesday to see Apple plant: “Apple shifted its Mac Pro assembly to a facility in Austin, Texas, in September after a round of tariff exemptions for computer parts the company won from trade regulators,” CNBC’s Eric Rosenbaum reports.

“Apple CEO Tim Cook has been lauded for his relationship with Trump at a time when domestic manufacturing and the trade war with China could seriously harm Apple’s existing business model. The Apple CEO has met one-on-one with Trump, including private dinners, as Apple faced the threat of tariffs on its products this year.”

IMPEACHMENT MINUTE: A speed read on the latest from the congressional impeachment inquiry.

"Sen. Johnson says whistleblower’s sources ‘exposed things that didn’t need to be exposed,'" By The Post's  Felicia Sonmez, Karoun Demirjian and Douglas MacMillan 
"How a CIA analyst, alarmed by Trump’s shadow foreign policy, triggered an impeachment inquiry." By The Post's Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Paul Sonne 

"Republicans Shift Defense of Trump, While He Attacks Another Witness." By the New York Times's Sheryl Gay Stolberg

POCKET CHANGE

— HP board unanimously rejects Xerox’s bid: HP’s board of directors said “that they unanimously rejected a proposal from Xerox to acquire the company, because the offer is not in the best interest of shareholders and would undervalue HP,” CNBC’s Emma Newburger reports.

“Xerox had offered HP $22 per share in its takeover bid for the company. The bid consists of 77% cash and 23% stock, or $17 in cash and 0.137 Xerox share for each HP share. HP announced in October that it will cut between 7,000 and 9,000 jobs by the end of fiscal 2022 as part of a broader restructuring plan that it estimates will save $1 billion a year. The cuts would amount to nearly 16% of its 55,000 employees across the world, according to data from FactSet.”

— Saudis in race for IPO record: “Saudi Aramco is worth up to $1.7 trillion at the price range set by the oil giant on Sunday, below the $2 trillion sought by Saudi’s crown prince but putting it in the running to become the world’s biggest IPO,” Reuters’s Hadeel Al Sayegh, Saeed Azhar and Rania El Gamal report.

“Aramco cannot sell its shares directly to investors in the United States and other markets, as the initial public offering (IPO) will be restricted to Saudis and those foreign institutions permitted to invest in the kingdom’s stock market. The oil giant said it plans to sell 1.5% of the company, or about 3 billion shares, at an indicative price range of 30 riyals to 32 riyals, valuing the IPO at as much as 96 billion riyals ($25.6 billion) and giving the company a potential market value of between $1.6 trillion and $1.7 trillion.”

MONEY ON THE HILL

— Warren, AOC side with Taylor Swift in fight against Carlyle Group: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a new ally in her battle against private equity: Taylor Swift,” CNBC’s Lauren Hirsch reports

“Swift on Thursday wrote a Tumblr post in which she detailed her frustration over the terms of the sale of her back catalog to music managers Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta and private equity firm Carlyle Group. Swift, who protested the initial sale, claimed Braun and Borchetta’s company, Big Machine Label Group, is placing restrictions on her ability to play her older music on televised performances. She pleaded for support from her fans and let them know where they could direct their anger.”

  • And private equity punches back: “The private equity industry, under attack from [Warren], is defending itself with the Popeyes chicken sandwich,” Politico’s Zachary Warmbrodt reports. “The industry is touting the fast food craze as a success attributable to private equity-backed Popeyes as it tries to ward off a bipartisan Capitol Hill assault led by Warren, including legislation that would increase the firms’ liability for the companies they take over. The industry is also facing two congressional probes and a House hearing this week as lawmakers raise concerns about its impact on workers and consumers.”
  • About that Tuesday hearing in House Financial Services: "What makes this hearing different, in our view, is that it serves as a definitive signal that private equity is the new financial boogeyman for Democrats both in Washington and on the campaign trail," Compass Point's Isaac Boltansky writes in a note to clients. "This hearing will provide a deluge of negative headlines for the entire private equity industry, but our sense is that the policy conversation is more political than practical at this stage."

— The fight over the F-35: “The U.S. military’s most expensive weapons program seemed to be under threat from all sides at a recent hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, as skeptical lawmakers called out supply chain problems that have meant only a third of the Pentagon’s F-35 fighter jets are capable of carrying out all the missions for which they were built,” my colleague Aaron Gregg reports.

“And some lawmakers criticized the terms of Lockheed’s arrangement with the government, saying overly generous intellectual property agreements threaten to lock Lockheed into a wasteful long-term profit machine with limited accountability. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) threatened to hold up a multibillion-dollar contract if fundamental questions aren’t resolved, suggesting there should be a broader sea change in how military agencies work with weapons builders.”

DAYBOOK

Today:

  • The National Association of Home Builders releases its latest market index
  • The Peterson Institute for International Economics holds an event on digital data and digital finance

Tuesday:

  • Home Depot, Kohl's and Urban Outfitters are among the notable companies reporting their earnings, per Kiplinger
  • The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing entitled "America for Sale? An Examination of the Practices of Private Funds"

Wednesday:

  • The Fed releases minutes of its late October meeting
  • Target, Lowe's and L Brands are among the notable companies reporting their earnings, per Kiplinger
  • A Financial Services Subcommittee holds a hearing on minority depository institutions

Thursday:

  • The Labor Department releases the latest jobless claims
  • Macy's, Nordstrom, Gap and Shoe Carnival are among the notable companies reporting their earnings, per Kiplinger
  • The Financial Services task force on Financial Technology holds a hearing on big

Friday:

  • Foot Locker, Buckle and J.M Smucker are among the notable companies reporting their earnings, per Kiplinger

THE FUNNIES

BULL SESSION