Business Report Plus: Spending deal reached in D.C.

  • Government shutdown averted
  • Another wild week for the stock market
  • New Jersey moves to make cryptocurrency trading safer
  • Toys R Us begins liquidation sale
  • Some New Jersey companies raise wages

The government remains open for business, following another nail-biter in Washington this week. Once again, talks on a short-term spending bill went down to the wire, and for a few hours overnight Friday, the government shut down before Congress approved funding the government for another six weeks. New Jersey’s Congressional delegation voted along party lines for the bill — with two Democrats, Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Rep. Bill Pascrell, joining with the GOP to vote for the legislation. The bill includes more funding for domestic programs, like fighting opioid abuse. There’s also funding that will enable McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to move forward on planning and construction for the KC-46 refueling tankers. But the bill provided no legislative resolution to the DACA issue, which is why Rep. Frank Pallone voted against it.

Here’s a breakdown of how NJ’s Congressional delegation voted on the spending deal.

“The problem is that now that the bill is passed, we don’t have the ability to put any kind of real pressure on the Republican leadership to bring up the “DREAMer” issue,” he said. Immigration, an issue that has implications for New Jersey’s businesses, will no doubt remain at the top of the Democrats’ list of priorities in Washington.

If the drama in Washington wasn’t enough this week, there was more drama on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than one thousand points on two separate days this week, and lose more than 5 percent for the week. Losses like this are unsettling, they also serve as an opportunity for investors to make sure they understand exactly where there money is invested, and whether they’re comfortable with the level of risk in their portfolios I’ve had many conversations with people over the years who say they are putting money in their 401Ks, but they aren’t sure about the types of funds they’re investing in. Take the time to figure this out, and get help if you’re not sure.

You may have heard about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. On Friday, New Jersey regulators went after an internet cryptocurrency website called Bitstrade, which it said was fraudulently offering securities in the state. Bitstrade, which is not registered to sell securities in New Jersey, was purportedly guaranteeing its investors up to 10 percent returns on their money. The state Bureau of Securities issued an emergency cease and desist order against the company.

“The Bureau’s action today reinforces our commitment to protecting investors as they navigate the uncharted and largely unregulated domain of cryptocurrency-related investments,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “We want to make sure that investors tempted to cash in on the cryptocurrency rage aren’t being lured into sending funds to an anonymous internet entity without knowing where the funds are going or how they’ll be used.”

Congress held a hearing on cryptocurrencies this week, and the head of the SEC testified there are significant risks to investing in cryptocurrencies, because many of their promoters are not complying with U.S. securities laws.

Some tough news for two New Jersey companies this week. Wayne-based Toys R Us has begun liquidation sales at the stores. It is scheduled to close as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. Eleven New Jersey stores are among those scheduled to be shuttered.

Hoboken-based Newell Brands is being targeted by a well-known activist investment firm, which is seeking to replace the company’s entire board of directors. Newell’s brands include Mr. Coffee, Crock-Pot and Sunbeam. This is a story that will play out in the weeks ahead.

Finally, at least four New Jersey banks have decided to raise worker pay following the tax reform law. The latest is Old Bridge-based Amboy Bank, which will increase minimum pay to $15 an hour.