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Things you can’t do amid U.S. shutdown (But spies laid off so ‘sext’ away) Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013.

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Things you can't do during the U.S. shutdown (But spies are laid off so 'sext' away
Some slices of life from across an America in shutdown mode, courtesy of The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Forbes and CNN, via The Dollar Vigilante:

1. Follow the trials and tribulations of Mike Cassesso and MaiLien Li at #shutdownwedding. Their marriage-to-be on the lawn by the Jefferson Memorial in Washington is threatened, as are others, such as a couple from New Jersey who want to get married at the Grand Canyon. Small mercy: Wedding night at the Hilton is probably more comfortable anyway.

2. Expect delays if you’re trying to adopt a small donkey, which you can, normally, actually do. Small mercy: The asses can’t leave Washington.

3. Public toilets are closed along the 184-mile C&O Canal route and national park, a popular bike route. Small mercy: There doesn’t appear to be a lot of poison ivy along the way.

4. The Armed Forces Retirement Homes in Washington and Gulfport, Miss., home to many of the 80-plus crowd, had to scrap Saloon Night. Small mercy: You can still rent the DVD of Animal House.

5. Given that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is affected, there could be trouble with gun permits. Small mercy: The NRA will have its knickers in a knot.

6. There’s a farmer in Wisconsin unable to cash a cheque for a cow he just sold because he needs someone at the Farm Service Agency to sign off on the sale. Small mercy: BBQ’d steak, anyone?

7. Home buyers may have to wait because some mortgage providers need certain information on taxes and social security before they can approve a loan. Small mercy: No one really wants another housing bubble.

8. The Ku Klux Klan can’t hold a scheduled event at Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg National Military Park. Small mercy: Do you really have to ask?

9. If you were troubled by the National Security Agency’s Prism program, whereby spooks scour the e-mails, online chats and social networking of folks using everything from Facebook to Skype, here’s your chance. Some NSA staffers aren’t deemed essential and are being laid off. Small mercy: Alison Pill can send selfies to her beau again, secure in the knowledge that some snoops are furloughed and will have to get their jollies elsewhere. But first she has to make sure she knows how to use her BlackBerry so she doesn’t send them to thousands of her Twitter fans.

BlackBerry draws more interest
Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. has submitted a draft of its takeover agreement to BlackBerry Ltd., The GLobe and Mail's Tara Perkins, Sean Silcoff and Jacquie McNish report today.

But the Canadian firm might have competition in its bid to take the ailing tech firm private.

According to sources, New York-based private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP is seeking to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that it may review confidential BlackBerry information that is only available to prospective buyers. But Cerberus is not a part of Fairfax’s consortium, sources said, implying that a rival bid is a possibility.

How long for the Bank of Canada?
Bank of Nova Scotia economists are now raising the possibility of no move in the Bank of Canada’s benchmark interest rate until 2016.

Other observers have speculated on late next year or early in 2015 for the first rate hike by the central bank.

But Scotiabank’s Derek Holt, Mary Webb and Dov Zigler say the Bank of Canada is now signalling a hold of more than two years, citing signs in a recent speech by senior deputy governor Tiff Macklem, among other things.

Earlier this week, Mr. Macklem painted a less optimistic picture than that painted a couple of weeks earlier by Governor Stephen Poloz.

The Bank of Canada’s benchmark overnight rate now stands at just 1 per cent.

“The BoC probably now envisages spare capacity remaining into 2016,” the Scotiabank economists said, adding the central bank now projects hitting its 2-per-cent target for annual inflation in mid-2015.

They believe the Bank of Canada may change that forecast, to an even later date, when meets later this month and also issues its monetary policy report.

“Against the conventional thinking that the BoC would want to hike before spare capacity closes, we continue to think that very easy money will be required even as spare capacity shuts,” the economists said.

“That’s because we don’t see the economy slipping into material excess aggregate demand into 2016,” they added in a research note.

“Highly stimulative monetary policy may therefore be required even at a resting equilibrium of no spare capacity. An added constraint in this regard is that while the BoC has exercised modest policy independence from the Federal Reserve in the past and with a mixed track record, we continue to view the central bank as being toward the limits of independence from Fed policy.”

The Fed has vowed to hold its benchmark rate at effectively zero until unemployment eases to at least 6.5 per cent.

The Scotiabank economists have been further out than others in the belief that the Bank of Canada won’t move until the third quarter of 2015, with the possibility of holding steady until “well into 2016.”

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