Federal Reserve Pauses Rate Hikes

Happy Thursday! A Belgian dad faked his own death and showed up to the funeral in a helicopter to teach his family “You shouldn’t wait until someone is dead to meet up with them.”

Consider this your warning to make Father’s Day plans for this weekend.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Federal Reserve paused its rate hike campaign Wednesday after 10 straight increases since March 2022, leaving the federal funds rate at 5 to 5.25 percent—though Fed Chair Jerome Powell said most of the central bankers believe they’ll need to raise rates at least once more this year to tamp down lingering inflation. The Consumer Price Index rose 4 percent year-over-year in May.
  • The State Department confirmed Wednesday that Secretary Antony Blinken will leave for Beijing Friday. The secretary is expected use the trip to push Chinese officials for greater military-to-military communications—which China cut off after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August—amid China’s recent escalatory behavior in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait Also this week, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is visiting China and will reportedly meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Wednesday his country has begun receiving nuclear weapons from Russia, including, he claimed, bombs “three times more powerful than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Russian President Vladimir Putin promised in March to deploy nuclear weapons to Belarusian soil after suspending in February Russia’s cooperation with New START, the last nuclear arms control treaty between the United States and Russia.
  • Sen. James Risch of Idaho—top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—is blocking a $735 million arms sale to Hungary in an effort to force the country to approve Sweden’s NATO membership bid ahead of the defensive alliance’s summit next month. Hungary is expected to back Sweden’s bid once Turkey does so, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said this week a new Swedish anti-terror law doesn’t go far enough in cracking down on Kurdish activists to earn Ankara’s support. A new country’s ascension to the alliance requires unanimous approval from existing members.
  • A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Daniel Penny, the former Marine who choked Jordan Neely to death on a New York City subway, on charges of second-degree manslaughter. The expected procedural step allows Penny’s trial to proceed.
  • The European Commission charged Google Wednesday with breaking European Union antitrust rules by illegally buying ad tech competitors and manipulating online advertising auctions to favor its own services—Google’s fourth European antitrust charge. The United States Department of Justice brought similar charges against the tech giant in January, requesting a breakup of Google’s ad business.
  • Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez filed Wednesday to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. A Cuban American serving his second mayoral term, Suarez is an underdog in the race who may struggle to meet fundraising levels required to attend the first primary debate.

A Pregnant Pause

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference on June 14, 2023. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference on June 14, 2023. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Nobody can blame Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s music taste for contributing to inflation. Instead of singing along to Beyoncé—prices for hotel rooms near her tour kickoff were so high they’ve been blamed for Swedish inflation—or dropping $21,000 on a Taylor Swift Eras Tour ticket, Powell indulged a cost-effective taste for rock music, attending a recent Dead and Company show where tickets could be bought for less than $100.

Back on the clock at his day job, Powell and his panel of central bankers fulfilled financial analysts’ expectations yesterday by announcing a pause in their rate-hiking campaign. But rates remain elevated, and the central bank suggested further increases may be necessary later in the year.

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