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    He's a constitutional lawyer who was a star at Harvard Law School. A junior senator in his first term, with a thin legislative record, no military service, no foreign policy experience whatsoever. He's never run anything and has spent most of his career on various government payrolls.

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    The state of the U.S. labour market in March will consume economists and investors in the week leading up to Easter, adding to the seesaw debate over when the Federal Reserve will spring its first interest rate hike.

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    How to maximize savings and avoid pitfalls. With the April 15 deadline less than three weeks away, taxpayers have filed just over half of the 150 million returns expected this year. If you do your own taxes, don't expect much help from the Internal Revenue Service.

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    As the Washington region grapples with a flat economy, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) asked real estate executives and small business owners Monday to partner with her in developing a slew of city-owned properties across the city, projects that she said could increase the city’s stock of affordable housing and bring new amenities to under-served neighborhoods.Bowser said that too often residents told her they felt excluded from the development process and that the District needed to incorporate more community input in development decisions and create opportunities for District-based small or minority-owned businesses.“Today’s event was to announce new parcels that will become available, and also a different approach,” Bowser said. “We’ve talked a lot in economic development about cranes. Our focus will be on how we’re creating jobs and opportunities for D.C. residents and small businesses.”When she entered office this year, Bowser inherited an uneven economy. On some measures, D.C. has weathered cuts to the federal government better than other local jurisdictions; office buildings in the District enjoy some of the lowest vacancy rates in the region and developers are still aggressively building new office and apartment buildings downtown and in neighborhoods including U Street, NoMa and around Nationals Park.But the District’s unemployment rate, when compared with the states, is now the highest in the nation, at 7.7 percent.Bowser has also still not filled key economic positions in her administration. A newly created position that was a central pledge of her campaign, deputy mayor for economic opportunity, remains empty. The mayor has also not yet nominated someone to serve as director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the agency that oversees building permits and business licensing.And although she re-affirmed her commitment to affordable housing, Bowser also miffed arts advocates and others with her abrupt cancellation of a plan to turn the former Franklin School downtown into a contemporary art museum. The property is now up for bid for at least the third time.At an event dubbed “March Madness” and held at the Lincoln Theater on U Street, Bowser and her economic development team announced six parcels of land that they plan to seek private development partners. The largest is a 1.4-acre lot in Southwest, located behind a Safeway grocery store near a Green Line Metro station, that could accommodate a 400,000-square-foot residential building.Other sites include pair of properties at a prominent intersection in Anacostia, at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road SE, that includes a historic store facade. Others include a quarter-acre site at the corner of Second and H streets NW, at the intersection of New Jersey Avenue, and a 5,000-square-foot site near Truxton Circle, at 1520-1522 North Capitol St. NW.“We want to keep that prosperity moving,” Bowser said. “And it’s important that we focus on neighborhoods.”The cost of housing remains a pressing issue for the mayor, particularly as it comes to use of public properties. As she spoke to developers inside the theater, a handful of protesters stood with a megaphone out on the sidewalk, criticizing the District’s agreement to provide up to $150 million in direct investment for a new stadium for D.C. United and chanting “housing is a human right” and “displacement is a crime.”With an eye on concerns from residents who feel left out of the development process,  Bowser announced a pilot program in which officials would craft a request for proposals after gathering more input from the community ahead of time.The test case will use 17,000 square feet of land on R Street in Shaw, known as Parcel 42, that  has been fraught for nearly a decade over affordable housing disagreements and remains vacant.Bowser started over on both Franklin School and Parcel 42, terminating negotiations with partners selected by her predecessor, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).In other cases she has picked up where Gray left off. Deputy Mayor Brian Kenner said his team had completed reviews of three other projects to ensure they would have sufficient affordable housing and would move forward with them. Those projects are the redevelopment of the former Grimke School and property at 965 Florida Ave. NW, both in the U Street corridor, as well as a third parcel near the intersection of 8th and O streets NW. Bowser will also try to redevelop vacant and blighted buildings as part of the Halley Terrace apartment complex in Ward 8, a plan Gray initiated.Staff writer Aaron Davis contributed.Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz




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    WASHINGTON-- Fiscal hawks have taken a couple blows already in this Congress, and another one may be on the way. Fewer than three months into the new, Republican-controlled Congress, lawmakers have approved bills that would add to the deficit or evade the "sequester" spending caps for defense. And more spending could be on tap for later this year, with analysts saying a deal to ease those caps for domestic as well as military outlays may be in the offing.

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    U.S. house prices were steady in January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20- city composite released Tuesday, with Charlotte, Miami and San Diego all seeing gains of 0.7% while San Francisco prices fell 0.9%. On a seasonally adjusted basis, prices grew 0.9%. Compared to Jan. 2014, prices were up 4.6%.

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    Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker said on Tuesday he still has not decided if he will dissent in a June policy meeting should his colleagues vote not to raise interest rates. "I'll wait to see what my colleagues have to say," Lacker told journalists following a speech in which he said there would be a strong case for hiking rates in June.

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    The U.S. federal funds rate, which banks charge each other to borrow their excess reserves, averaged 0.12 percent on Monday, unchanged from Friday, Fed data released early Tuesday showed. The fed funds rate, which the Federal Reserve targets to achieve its rate objective, traded in a range of 0.05 percent to 0.3125 percent for a third straight session.

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    Jeffrey Lacker, the president of the Richmond Fed, said Tuesday that he expects solid growth and rising inflation this year, and as a result, would urge the U.S. central bank to start raising interest rates relatively soon. "I expect that, unless incoming economic reports diverge substantially from projections, the case for raising rates will remain strong at the June meeting," Lacker said in a speech prepared for delivery to the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

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    The Federal Reserve will have a "strong" case to hike U.S. interest rates in June, a hawkish Fed official said on Tuesday, dismissing recently weak economic data as transitory and perhaps due to unseasonable weather.

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    Critical intelligence before the market opens. The blue chips have been a bit more volatile than usual this month. In fact, if we see triple-digit action today, it will mean the Dow has turned in a move in excess of 100 points 16 times in March.

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    Updated from 7:05 a.m. EDT. Here are 10 things you should know for Tuesday, March 31: 1. -- U.S. stock futures were drooping Tuesday on the last day of the first quarter. European stocks lacked direction Tuesday, as weakness in Asia and worries over Greece and deflation seemed to weigh on sentiment even as the economy in Germany showed continued strength.

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    Plus: The job strategies that work and don't work. The U.S. job market is on the mend but boomer workers are probably being left behind. Workers aged 45 to 70 who lose a job face steep challenges in finding new work-- and even when they do find a job, it's often at lower pay and with fewer benefits than they enjoyed before, according to a new survey by AARP, published Monday.

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    U.S. small businesses took out fewer loans last month but borrowing was up from a year ago as firms ramped up investments in their operations, according to data released on Tuesday. The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index fell to 119.2 last month from 122.4 in January. The index gauges borrowing by firms with $1 million or less in outstanding debt.

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    Banks, utilities and gaming stocks could be hit hard after election. LONDON-- The U.K. general election is turning into a thriller for politicians and stock investors alike, as the lack of a clear favorite makes it trickier to take a position. With May 7 approaching fast, polls reflect a neck-and-neck race between the Conservative Party, which leads the ruling coalition government in partnership with the Liberal Democrats, and the Labour Party, creating lots of anxiety about the...

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    The demise of the housing recovery has been greatly exaggerated. Despite the fact that bond yields--and, therefore, mortgage rates--did precisely the opposite of what Wall Street expected in 2014 by staying low, the pace of home-price appreciation slowed. The year-over-year change in the S&P/Case- Shiller 20 City Composite index has fallen sharply to 4.5% last December from 13.8% in November 2013..