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To enter, click here (you will need to have a free ESPN account) and select “Join Group.” The password is “TMD2K23!” and predictions must be completed by Thursday morning before the first games tip off. If you want to be eligible for prizes, fill out this form so we can connect you with your ESPN entry.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent month-over-month and 6 percent annually in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, down slightly from 0.5 and 6.4 percent in January, but higher than economists’ expectations. The data will likely keep the Federal Reserve on track to hike interest rates 25 basis points when officials meet next week, though concerns about the stability of the banking system could throw a wrench in central bankers’ plans.
- The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission have both opened investigations into the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, probing stock sales made by SVB’s CEO Greg Becker and CFO Daniel Beck in the days and weeks leading up to the bank’s collapse on Friday. The pair sold about $2.3 million and $575,000 worth of SVB stock on February 27, respectively, but both sales were conducted under a 10b5-1 plan set up a month earlier.
- U.S. European Command announced Tuesday that two Russian Su-27 fighter jets had conducted an “unsafe and unprofessional intercept” of an unmanned U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper operating in international airspace over the Black Sea, striking the propeller of the American drone and causing it to plunge into the waters below. “This unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash,” said Air Force Gen. James Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe. Russia’s Defense Ministry denied its jets came in contact with the drone, blaming the drone’s operators for its demise.
- Drugmaker Novo Nordisk announced Tuesday that beginning in January 2024, it will dramatically cut the prices of its top-selling insulin products—NovoLog by 75 percent and Novolin/Levemir by 65 percent. The move comes about two weeks after Novo’s competitor, Eli Lilly, announced it would slash insulin prices 70 percent and cap out-of-pocket costs for most patients at $35 a month. About 8.4 million people with diabetes in the United States rely on insulin, and a RAND Corporation report found a vial of insulin cost nearly $100 on average in the U.S. in 2018—about five times more than the second-highest price of about $21 in Chile.
- California’s First District Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Monday allowing companies in the gig economy like Uber and Lyft to continue classifying their labor force as independent contractors rather than employees. Monday’s opinion largely reversed a 2021 decision from a lower court that declared a 2020 ballot initiative on this question unconstitutional after a majority of voters had supported the independent contractor position.
- Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced another round of layoffs on Tuesday, slashing 10,000 jobs and taking down about 5,000 unfilled job openings as part of what he dubbed the tech company’s “year of efficiency.” Meta had already laid off 11,000 people—then about 13 percent of its workforce—in November.
To Raise Rates or Not to Raise Rates, That is the Question
To those who thought we were done with inflation: We hate to say we told you so, but it was probably too early to spike the football.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its February consumer price index (CPI) report yesterday with the numbers showing a mixed bag as overall inflation slightly ticked down from January, but was up in some key categories. Beyond that the collapse of two banks has raised questions about the Fed’s program of interest rate hikes. Poor Jerome. Guy can’t catch a break.