Blog   Tagged ‘congress’

Midterm elections: What does it matter to the economy?

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Elections are vital for more than just ensuring the democratic process (and inundating you with political campaign ads). They also decide which politicians will be making serious fiscal decisions for us. With the midterm elections being held next week, we want to discuss just how they affect the economy.

See below for more…

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Control change in Congress
The race worth watching in the midterm elections this year will be in the Senate. At this early stage we believe there is a slightly better than 50 percent chance that the Republican Party will win control of the Senate. As for the House, the Republican majority does not appear to be changing hands.

Currently, Democrats control the Senate with 53 seats and two Independents that both caucus with the Democrats. Republicans hold the remaining 45 seats.

Here’s the math that leads us to our conclusion that the Republicans have the edge this time:

  • 36 contested seats
    • 21 will go to the Democrats
      • These include seven Democrats in states that supported Mitt Romney in the presidential election. These seven states have substantially lower approval ratings of President Obama than the national average.
    • 15 will go to the Republicans
      • Only one of the Republicans up for reelection is in a state that President Obama carried.

Our research tells us that incumbency is a powerful thing.  During an average election cycle, 90 percent of incumbents win reelection. The Republicans need six additional seats to have the majority, which means it’s going to be close. This is why we put the odds at only slightly better than a coin toss.

What we find interesting is looking past the 2014 Senate race and into the 2016 cycle where we see the opposite happening. Out of the 24 Republicans up for reelection, seven are in states that supported President Obama, meaning the Senate may see a yo-yo effect in 2016.

Why it matters
Why does it matter if the Republicans control Congress? If they are in control, we believe Congress will focus its attention on a few major issues:

  • Spending and other fiscal issues – The debt ceiling will once again be a discussion point in March 2015. A Republican-controlled Congress may look for spending concessions.
  • The 2016 budget -The Republicans made a big deal out of the Senate’s failure to pass a budget in the past, so now it’s their turn to get it done. If Paul Ryan is Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, we could see discussions around tax reform and changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Immigration reform – This could be put on the back burner, which forces it to be addressed by our 2016 presidential candidates.

Stay tuned for part II of this topic on election day—November 4!

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.



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What does the new Farm Bill mean for you?

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Bill Watson, president of UMB Agribusiness, breaks down what you need to know about the newly-passed Farm Bill in this video.

For more information, keep reading below.

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Every five years, Congress passes legislation known as the Farm Bill that sets policy for our nation’s agriculture, nutrition and conservation. After being without a bill for the last two years due to Congressional differences, Congress recently approved the latest version of the Farm Bill. One of the most important components the new bill provides is consistency to the planning process, allowing producers to determine their probable cash flows and insurance coverage levels for the years ahead.

There are two major issues that arise with the new bill that require careful consideration for farm financial planning. Both of these issues can have a material impact on revenue streams and, consequently, on producers’ ability to cover debt payments and input costs in the coming years.

1)      elimination of direct payments

  • These were based on the number of acres farmers owned and not on the condition of their crops.
  • Impact on future cash flows: In many cases this may not be material, but in some cases where new increased debt levels may have stressed cash flows and debt coverage, this reduction in total income can have a serious, detrimental effect.
  • Producers need to work closely with their banks and financial advisors to review the impact of this change in forecasting the adequacy of future cash flows, and determining if changes in debt levels, loan terms or loan structure need to be made to accommodate lower future income levels. This should be done now rather than waiting until next year when the effect has already impacted the banking relationship. Being candid and straightforward with bankers and advisors as to any problems the reduced payments may potentially bring to operations will be critical for producers and their short- and long-term financial planning.

2)      new coverage types and levels for crop insurance

  • Now that there are no more direct payments, crop insurance will become the foundation of the new bill.
  • Producers immediately need to determine which option will work best for their individual farms. Farmers now have the option between two new insurance programs – Price Loss Coverage or Agriculture Risk Protection.
  • Price Loss Coverage pays the farmer or producer when the market price for a covered crop is below a fixed reference price.
  • Agriculture Risk Protection – makes payments to farmers when either the farm’s revenue from all crops or the county’s revenue for a crop is below 86 percent of a predetermined benchmark level of revenue.
  • In most situations, the best way to make the irrevocable selection between the two program options is to review how the options would have impacted specific farming operations throughout the last several years. By looking at several years, or by forecasting crop rotations into the next five years when possible, producers can determine which option will provide the best insurance coverage under a variety of potential circumstances.

Careful consideration of future operations, past insurance costs and coverage, and required levels of risk mitigation can yield significant improvement to overall farm income in the years ahead. Taking proactive steps to evaluate these areas with bankers and financial advisors will be critical in establishing a strategic plan and achieving the best outcomes financially possible for farming operations.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Watson serves as president of the UMB Agribusiness Division. He joined UMB in August of 2005 and has also served as the president of the UMB Kansas region. Watson is a graduate of Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana with a major in Psychology. He has also attended The Colorado School of Banking, The National Commercial Lending School (where he has also been an instructor), and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking.



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