Jerome Powell will "underwhelm everyone and not overwhelm anyone," one economist saysMarket Insiderread more
Activists with Black Lives Matter, who met privately with Buttigieg in the weeks after police shot and killed Eric Logan, say the 37-year-old mayor brushed off their concerns...2020 Electionsread more
The group, whose chairman is J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, blamed tension with China and the stalled free-trade agreement with Mexico and Canada for its members' downbeat...Politicsread more
The unspecified action comes after the U.S. accused Iran of carrying out the weekend attacks on critical Saudi oil installations.Politicsread more
Oil prices retreated after President Donald Trump said he ordered the Treasury Department to "substantially increase" sanctions on Iran.Energy Commoditiesread more
Wall Street economists think the Fed will cut rates by 25 basis points at its September meeting but have differing views about what will happen in the future.Marketsread more
Trump's announcement of his fourth national security advisor comes eight days after the abrupt departure of John Bolton.Politicsread more
The monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) from the American Institute of Architects fell to 47.2 from 50.1 in July. Any score below 50 indicates a decrease in architecture...Real Estateread more
Corporate executives and money managers have grown increasingly pessimistic about the economy as growth around the world slows.Trader Talk with Bob Pisaniread more
Mortgage applications to purchase a home increased 6% for the week and were a strong 15% higher annually.Real Estateread more
U.S. homebuilding surged to more than a 12-year high in August as both single- and multi-family housing construction increased.Economyread more
Google News reports "about 79,000,000 results" for the term "government shutdown," and everyone on both sides of the aisle seems to agree that what's happening right now is a government shutdown. But there is nothing in federal law referring to a government shutdown. And the ubiquitous use of the phrase to refer to what's happening in Washington right now is lazy and sensational.
The term seems to have first been used in late 1980 with the Civiletti Opinion, in which then-Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti interpreted the Antideficiency Act to mean that without a spending bill, government work could not continue. He followed that up with a second opinion decreeing that essential government services could continue without such a bill—which is at odds with any definition of the word "shutdown" in any context other than this.
It wasn't until 1995 that a government shutdown lasting more than three days happened, and the phrase "government shutdown" hadn't even appeared in a law journal until 1994. But by 1995, the terminology had become so widespread that a memorandum prepared by the Attorney General's Office of Legal Counsel chief Walter Dellinger ripped into it in unusually strong terms (for an intergovernmental memorandum):
[P]rior responses to the threat of or actual lapsed appropriations have been so commonly referred to as cases of "shutting down the government" that this has become a nearly universal shorthand to describe the effect of a lapse in appropriations. It will assist in understanding the true extent of the Act's requirements to realize that this is an entirely inaccurate description.
An actual government shutdown, the memo notes, would "produc[e] incalculable amounts of suffering and loss."
Doug Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, said he has "no idea" where the term comes from, and says that, in practice, so-called government shutdowns are "more embarrassing than dangerous."
But he has a theory.
"We do have private sector entities that shut down," he said. "The factory's gate closes for the last time and the worker picks up his lunch pail and walks off into the sunset. At some point, some good messaging person figured out that that was the way to frame [lapses in appropriations]. Getting to the emotional core of something is very powerful. That's where this comes from."
Clearly we need a new term; Dellinger's "lapse in appropriations" is accurate; Holtz-Eakin suggested "funding gap." But neither of those is especially catchy.
So I called Charles Tiefer, a University of Baltimore law professor and former deputy general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives. After he noted that "government shutdown" overstates the impact of what's happening, I asked him to come up with a better term.
"That's a new one. No one's ever asked me that," he said. "Do you mind just sitting here while I try to think?"
After a minute or so of silence and professorial grumbling, he was talking again.
"Well, you could say the government goes into a coma. Its vital signs are maintained but it ceases most of its activity."
Fiscal coma? A little creepy, perhaps—but more accurate than "government shutdown."
—By Zac Bissonnette, for CNBC.com. Bissonnette's book "Good Advice From Bad People: Selected Wisdom From Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong" will be published in March by Penguin.